Grace’s Birth

Another birth story from my totally fantastic Due Date Club, this one written by Kristy.  I’ve got plenty more stories to come, but I’m trying to ration them a bit, birth story junkies that we all are.  So enjoy this lovely hospital birth with a very supportive team that did a great job of respecting the mom’s birth plan!


Fall of 2011 had just began and I noticed I had missed my period, not one but two months. This was rather odd as I was doing well health wise, loosing weight and my Thyroid medication I had been on for the past year or so was working well. Since being on the medicine, my periods had become close to regular every month, something which I hadn’t experienced since before our first daughter was born back in 2004.  July we had dropped our health insurance because we could no longer afford to pay half the premium anymore as it had gone up 5-6 times in the past couple years. So after making sure our daughter, Maddy, had health insurance from the state we went with out insurance for ourselves, not knowing we would be blessed to learn were expecting another baby girl!  There was a new pregnancy resource center in town that offered free tests, so I made the decision to go, even though I had my doubts. I tested and got a very faint line, which turned out to be because I was a little early in testing. In the coming weeks I would make an appointment with the OBGYN I had been seeing for my thyroid. A blood test as well as an ultrasound was done and I was just in pure amazement. For years and years we had waited and were not sure if we would ever be blessed with another baby again due to my Thyroid troubles. But in the last couple years I had a peace within myself in whatever happened. When I found out I was expecting a baby I went home and just smiled from ear to ear, I couldn’t believe I was given a chance to be a mommy again!

Fast forward to the Spring of 2011… I went into preterm labor at 34 weeks and went into the hospital to be monitored and then had my labor stopped. We were also in the process of getting ready to move in the next couple months. The plan was to be at our new place by July 1st, but we had most of the house already packed. We had everything we needed ready to go for the baby’s arrival, but one thing I learned through this experience is I will never plan a move while having a baby again.  Time is precious and babies are only babies for a short while. It was a necessary move in that it would affect all of our lives for the better.  Sure enough, moving has been a major blessing in our lives and one less stress to have an employer that values my husband and his abilities.

To get back to the actual birth story… It was Tuesday morning May 3rd and I had a liner on because my bladder was unpredictable; we all know how it is at this point in pregnancy. I was standing in the kitchen making Maddy a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for her lunch that day at school and I noticed my liner was soaked, like I peed my pants.  So after I finished went to the bathroom and got a fresh pair of underwear and then put on another liner and stood there, and within a few minutes it was soaked as well. So this time I stood in the shower and just stood there with nothing on and tiny little gushes trickled down my legs. It was so tiny I couldn’t tell if it was my bladder or what, but knew it was odd. I had my water broken manually to start labor with Maddy and it was a humungous gush, so that is another reason why I was so puzzled, because this was not like that.  (I will never allow anyone to manually break my water again to induce labor.  Being a first time mom I didn’t know any better at the time.)  So anyways, we got Maddy off to school, I took a shower and got my bag and stuff in the car and off to L&D we went, because we were advised to go and get things checked out. I went into the bathroom and the nurse had a litmus strip to test if it was amniotic fluid or not.  It turned bright blue immediately which was positive. I had tested positive for Group Beta Strep at my check up the week before (I didn’t when I was pregnant with Maddy so that was new), so now because I was GBS positive I could not go home during early labor and I had to be admitted and started on my rounds of antibiotics right away. I almost wonder if infection caused my water to break or if it’s just that Grace wanted to come early; this was the question I originally asked myself after giving birth. Over the course of the next year I would find it out all the signs lead to me having an infection due to both GBS and a tooth infection I was unaware of at the time.

Once we were admitted we had called Maddy’s teacher who graciously offered Maddy a place to stay while we had the baby in the hospital. All of our family and friends lived out of state, and my mom and sister were not going to be able to visit for a couple months. So we were forever grateful for the graciousness of those we knew in our community.  Maddy had her own bag ready to go as well for when the time came for her to stay the night.  Grace was doing fine on the monitors so I was happy about that.  I had a really great nurse during the day who used to be a doula, which was very comforting. As a matter of fact this time I had an official doula, too.  It was my first experience having one and I thought it was totally worth it.  Our Doula Shellie was also Maddy’s occupational therapist so we were friends, and it was great. We waited to call her in with us until my contractions were a bit closer together and more regular. I didn’t go into contractions right away either.  After getting my first round of antibiotics and monitored for a bit, I had my IV hep-locked, (this makes it more portable, since the tubing can be hooked in and out of it) and I was un-tethered from the IV so I could walk.  I walked and walked for a few hours.  I noticed crampy-type pains coming and then after a while I was having regular contractions, but they were very tolerable, even though they were becoming more noticeable. I forgot to mention I was having contractions when I first came in and never realized it; you could see them on the monitor in the beginning and I was not feeling them, which again is something I never experienced that with Maddy so it was really weird!  I was on a time schedule for my antibiotics so they would give me a time to watch for to start another round of antibiotics again and in the mean time I was free to do whatever I wanted. I noticed that if I stayed in bed my labor would kind of slow down. So I made sure I was up and walking as much as I could and they fed me lunch! I was so surprised! This didn’t happen with Maddy, I wasn’t allowed anything! I loved sitting on the birth ball they provided me with, that helped cushion the spikes of the contractions and bouncing on it helped keep them going.

So as things picked up sometime late afternoon.  Early evening we called in our doula, Shellie.  Right before we called her in I had a small stall as well, and she had suggested over the phone that we maybe try a prostaglandin pill, I forget what it’s called [Editor’s note: this was probably either cytotec or cervadil] which usually the put in your cervix to soften and get things started [Editor’s note: it goes into the vagina underneath the cervix and is used as a cervical ripener]. I was very apprehensive about it, but needed to find a way to get things going again. It seemed to do the trick for and for while and I was contracting again. Our doula arrived and she was great and had a bag of all kinds of things she could use during labor to help.

My labor again stalled though not long after she had came, because I had to sit in bed for my round of antibiotics and the contractions subsided a bit. They were still there but not consistent. We talked to the Doctor and he said it was up to me, he was still very respectful of my birth plan but guided me through my decisions  and didn’t make them for me.  I was not used to this and this helped me be much more comfortable in having a hospital birth, as my last hospital birth was much more about telling me what to do and unnecessary interventions, such as manually breaking my water and early induction. This time around, however, it was a wonderful experience.  I told him I wanted to get up and walk and try a little while longer and see what happens over the next few hours and he agreed. So my doula began walking the hallways with us and talking and joking with my husband, keeping things a great atmosphere.  Sure enough walking did the trick again and I got back into a rhythm. I was able to smile and laugh and talk in between contractions, it was so different than my first labor. I think because my body was able to develop it’s own rhythm rather than being forced into one by induction, where I had my water broken and my body was kind of slammed into labor it literally felt like I was being wrung out like a sponge with searing pain. This time allowing it to come naturally it was much more tolerable. I was amazed, because when talking with my doula before birth at our formal meeting, I told her I was nervous but wanted to find a way to have a natural birth and find a way to work with my body. She gave me some tips for breathing; something I wasn’t taught in my Lamaze classes during my first pregnancy was how to actually fill up your lungs with air not just shallow breathing, and that did wonders! Basically they were hypno-birthing techniques that helped me find a relaxed state with as well as finding ways to not allow tension in your body. If she would see a section of my body tense up, like my shoulders tense up or another part of my body she would say “do a tension check” or let me know the specific part of my body that was tense and I could focus and make a point to relax each area of my body one section at a time and it worked! I can’t describe how, but it did.  She also described to me how the muscles work during labor in our formal meeting, which I didn’t know with Maddy; she also helped me learn how to visualize it and that also helped my body really get into a rhythm and really understand what I was doing.

So I was sailing away and time was just weird, the concept of time is so different in labor, sometimes it would fly other times it seemed like forever. My contractions were going strong and really spiked, they were lasting longer and a little more intense at the peak, but eventually the prostaglandin pill wore off and I needed to take a break from walking for a minute. So I had a slight stall again, but I did not loose faith, I was at complete peace with no pressure from my doctor and in control of my birth experience.

Meanwhile my doula ran me a bath in the Jacuzzi tub and put some lavender oil in there, oh my that was heaven! She then started an acupressure technique where she pressed on a pressure point near my ankle and then rubbed the side of my pinky toe, I am not kidding! And it worked!  Within no time I was contracting again! I was at 5 or 6cm at that time and within a few hours I had made it to 8cm. In the tub I was getting those spiky contractions again towards the end and would lay against the jets up against my back and it would help so much. I could smile and talk in between them and she was so positive to me and telling me what a wonderful job I was doing and how impressed she was with how in tune I was with my body. I felt like superwoman!  I could tell the contractions were getting more intense and she didn’t need to keep doing the acupressure anymore.  I got out and was checked and I was 8 cm. My nurse at night was awesome and my Shellie loved her and told me I got the best nurse on the entire floor that night. Shellie was right, she was my favorite nurse, so it just made my night. The nurse was so positive about my birth plan and showed me the wireless monitor so she didn’t have to drag me out of the tub to monitor the baby, but walked over to me and held it on my stomach instead.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing! She was telling me that some nurses don’t like them because it requires a little more patience and work, but they were awesome for natural labors like mine.

Shellie told me it shouldn’t be long now because my contractions were intense, and that I was entering transition. These contractions I really really had to concentrate on, they were very painful at their peaks but I thought of it like a roller coaster and that once I could reach that peak then it would cruise back down. Then I would get a break. They got intense but at the same time they weren’t one on top of another because I had maintained a rhythm.  With my first labor they were one on top of another, no rhythm at all and I felt as if I was working against my body. I didn’t know how find a rhythm or visualize and without a doula I had no one to ask for help. So having a doula by my side this time and knowing what was going on was so helpful.  This time I was ready and full of actual information in large part due to the consultation with Shellie before labor itself started. I honestly think had I not gotten an epidural with my first labor, I would have stalled and ended up with a C-Section because having an epidural was the only thing that allowed my body to calm down and dilate.

However, this time I wanted things to be different.  I wanted to know what it was like to experience labor; my goal was to make it through it on my own. As I entered transition I was leaning up against Jed.  I would lay my head in his shoulder, or squeeze his hand, but after a while it got to the point that even this wasn’t working anymore.  So I had him sit down and take a break.  I was checked and found out I was fully effaced and dilated to 10 cm with just a tiny lip of cervix, but the nurse fixed that.  I continued on through the strong contractions of transition and it was the hardest part but I knew the end was in sight and kept telling myself I am almost there; finding the strength within myself in my own mind was what got me through it. I was humming/moaning through the contractions and breathing, I can remember my doula explaining to my husband that my noises were pushing noises and it sounded like my body was getting close and she was exactly right.

The most amazing experience happened to me during transition, and Shellie had described this phenomenon to me in our meeting. I would have a very very hard and long contraction and I am not sure exactly how long but with the hypno-birthing technique I was able to relax myself so much that I actually went into a deep sleep in between each contraction. It was the most incredible feeling and each time I felt rested and ready for another. It was almost as if I was going into REM sleep. That is something I will never forget! Within around 30 minutes (I can’t remember exactly how long) it was finally time to push.  I suddenly felt pressure and then it literally felt like a ring of fire just like I have been told and then Grace crowned and within 3 or 4 pushes she was out. No tearing at all, I was amazed! She was 6lbs 12 ¼ ounces, a small little girl and a lot of white vernix. Thankfully she didn’t have any breathing problems and did well and I was able to hold her and got her to breastfeed, but she was a sleepy little girl and got a little cold so they gave me a couple more blankets out of the warmer and I pushed out the placenta very easily and the doctor said it looked great and very healthy.

I requested in my birth plan to let the cord keep pulsating and only cut it once it had stopped, and the doctor honored my wishes! This request can be very hard to get in a birth plan sometimes, but he was amazing.  So she got all her cord blood. I had no hemorrhaging at all, either.  I was nervous because with my first labor I did and I often wonder if it was because result of all the interventions sometimes.  What made me decide to have a hospital birth this time around was a desire to prevent bleeding complications similar to what I had with my first birth, but also having a supportive doctor, nurses and wonderful doula made it seem as if I were almost at home.  So after the placenta was out the nurse wheeled me into the nursery and Baby Grace was warmed up and then washed up. With Maddy I wasn’t even asked or allowed into the room for her first bath, this time they made sure I was everywhere I wanted to be with the baby. So I was really happy about that.

I had a wonderful lactation consultant and with her help Grace learned to suck.  Bcause she was born at 36 weeks just a few days before 37 weeks, Grace wasn’t good at sucking and needed a little help.  With a little practice she was taught to latch on beautifully; she was doing great and getting a lot of colustrum in fact so much that she over filled her belly a few times.  We were almost going to be released and then she starting exhibiting signs of jaundice and it got kind of bad, so we ended up staying a few more days in the hospital till May 8th and didn’t get released until the afternoon of Mother’s day. It was a hard few days, my husband had to go back home and get our daughter Maddy because she had become extremely homesick and told her teacher that she wanted to see mommy and sleep in her bed. She had fun out on her teacher’s farm, but missed home, and because of needing structure due to her Autism, Jed and I decided it would be best if he stayed with her and they would visit me every day and then I would stay with the baby. It was harder than I thought it would be, at first most of the nurses were ok, but the first had me keep Grace under the table in my room the entire day. Normally I would be just fine with rooming in, however I could not go to the bathroom, could not eat, and had no one there to help me, and the reason why is the stupid glasses they used kept falling off Grace’s eyes and I had to keep them on in order to not damage her eyes. The night before the nurse who was with me during my birth was working in the nursery, and that night she had put a baby hat that she had cut out to make a much more effective and softer band, with several layers to protect the eyes. It was much more comfortable for the babies than the goggles they had. But by day I had to monitor the baby in my room, and a different nurse put on the horrible goggles and said what the nurse I liked on the night shift had done was against the rules blah blah blah.  Grace kept pulling the goggles off; pretty much every few minutes I had to put them back on, so as I mentioned I was struggling to change my pads, go to the bathroom and eat and was a little frustrated at the nurse.  Thankfully night shifted started at 7pm and another nice nurse that I liked took over and it was a Godsend!  She allowed me to get sleep at night and took very good care of Grace for me when I needed a break.

I was a little stressed though because of the unknown with my breastfeeding, they gave me a Medela pump to try and draw my supply up, it hadn’t come yet. Finally the last few days I was getting transitional milk and pumping 10 ccs each pumping session.  I would pump after each feeding. It was just barely enough. Grace would feed and I could hear her gulp a few times which was good then after that I would give her what I had pumped by syringe. But I couldn’t bring in any more than that. So I started to get a little worried, because sometimes she had to have what was in the syringe to settle down completely.

The very last day we were at the hospital I had a little bit of a breakdown due to a nurse who I could not stand. She was formerly completely anti-breastfeeding and had no problem admitting to that, where I would have been completely ashamed to admit such a thing if I were her. Here I am struggling with all the unknowns of my supply and I am completely pro-breastfeeding and just can’t stand people like her. Supposedly after going to this workshop she changed her mind and thought she was the world’s foremost expert on breastfeeding and trying to tell me to trust my body and telling me things I already knew, as if I was some kind of stupid person.  She was so dense and new to breastfeeding that she had no idea that for some women there are supply issues and it doesn’t always just come naturally, for a good percentage it does but not all ladies, and for some reason I just happen to be the small percentage of women that struggle. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise hardly to tell her I am not a new mom this was my 2nd baby and my first baby I had major supply issues, as nothing ever came in at all that time. So I just wanted to smack her. I had just gotten Grace fed and she forced me to take her back into the room and feed her again, even though I had nothing to give her and Grace was asleep. So when she left the room I wrapped the baby back up and ate my breakfast with one hand and held Grace sleeping in the other.  By the afternoon when we finally got the ok to be discharged since Grace was in safer billi levels, I was completely ready to be out of there!  She took an already stressful situation and made me feel stupid and incompetent and just angry because she didn’t even start off having any respect for moms that breastfeed most of her career as a RN in the first place, which didn’t set well with me. She thought she could “teach” me more than I already know with her lectures to me. Anyways all I can say is I was glad to be rid of that lady and thankfully she was only on shift my last day in the hospital. I would have gone into a full blown breakdown had I had to stay around her any longer.

So Mother’s day afternoon we can home and I breastfeed for another several days after we got home; and Grace was doing ok at first it seemed so I continued to try my best. The Pediatrician sent me home with a scale and saw Grace every couple days at her office to check on my supply and the baby’s progress. I was only able to give Grace a half ounce at a time I learned with the scale weighing her before and after her feedings and she was needing 1-2 ounces at that point. Then, right at those last couple days of seeing the doctor I noticed she was started to get really dehydrated looking by the look of her diapers and I had to begin supplementing with formula because I just couldn’t give her enough and she also started to show the signs of still being hungry. For a while I kept up pumping but the feedings were so often I couldn’t find the time to pump after every feeding as I wanted, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep at all. So it went down to a few pumping sessions a day and then once or twice a day. I was pumping an ounce total for a while, but because of not getting regular stimulation then went down to ½ ounce even with the same amount of pumping. I gave her every drop I could pump. I was happy that I at least made it as far as I did, because with Maddy literally none came in, just drops. So I was relieved she got some breast milk, which is way better that none at all. I had an easier time emotionally this go around, but still felt a bit sad because I so desperately wanted to give her breast milk. I wasn’t mad at myself  but I was sad because I enjoyed the bond during breastfeeding and Grace actually used to beg to breastfeed when I started to supplement and I would let her, but over time she got used to the bottle and didn’t beg anymore. That broke my heart. But at least I know I did my best and gave her as much as I could and that I am proud of.

Having an emergency appendectomy(removal of my appendix) when I hit my 6 week mark pretty much dried up my supply and I was not allowed to breastfeed with the medications I was on, some they could change around to be more breastfeeding friendly but others they couldn’t so I just decided at that point I had to stop and Grace was already receiving most of her feedings from formula. I could have tried to draw it back in, but with the move just a few weeks later and feeding and everything I had very little time to pump.  I would later find on that on both sides of my family women have had supply issues, I had no idea until just a few weeks ago.  I thought just my mom had struggles, so I think with that genetic combination and my thyroid, it’s just how my supply is.

In any case, it was a happy birthday to my Sweet Baby Grace!

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