<![CDATA[Welcome to Denali Doula - Blog]]>Tue, 29 Dec 2015 07:28:32 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[My First Birth: Home Birth in Seattle 1995]]>Fri, 19 Oct 2012 17:14:32 GMThttp://denalidoula.weebly.com/blog/my-first-birth-home-birth-in-seattle-1995
July 31, 1995

38 weeks pregnant with my first child, hot and miserable in the hottest summer on record in Seattle I began contractions that would last 2-3 hours every evening from 8-11pm until August 19th. My due date was actually August 10th but I had this insane idea in my head that I might go early. You see despite the multiple books I read on pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn (yep, I read the book of the same name by Penny Simkin  too) I really never did believe that I would go past my due date. Everyday that passed August 10th I felt like a zoo animal on display for my husband and mother as we all awaited the birth of our fist child. I dreaded answering the phone calls of family members checking in to see the baby was here yet and would often push the empty baby swing saying “baby come out!”.

August 19th, 1995

I awoke around 3 am with mild cramping and headed to the bathroom to find I had finally lost my mucus plug. I tried to fall back asleep but my sleep was intermittent as I could feel each contraction that passed, though spaced quite far apart. My husband had the day off so when he awoke we decided to take a walk to see if we could get the contractions I was feeling to intensify. Walking seemed to make them feel a bit stronger and I was certain that this was the day and in just a few hours I would be meeting my precious baby for the first time. It was a Saturday and we called my midwife to let her know what was happening. Though we were planning a home birth she asked us to come into their clinic/ birth center so she could check me to see what was happening. We hopped into the car and drove  thirty minutes to the other side of Seattle arriving at  Seattle Home Maternity Service around 3:30pm . When we arrived my midwife, Marge, was very reassuring and did a check to discover I was at around 3cm. She stripped my membranes and sent me off to get a bite to eat at a nearby health store  and told my husband and mother to call her when my contractions started to heat up. By the time we reached the store (about 10 minutes away) I was no longer hungry. I remember my mom telling me it was time to get out of the car and go inside and all I could think was this baby will fall out if I do. As I walked into the store my legs didn’t want to go, each contraction seemed to get stronger and I was having a lot of discomfort in my back. They bought Dolmas and tried to convince me to get one too. I agreed to eat an apple, I ate three bites in the store and held that apple in my lap the entire ride home. Once we were in the car driving, I went to another place in my mind. Everything seemed like a blur. There was movement, and each bump in the road seemed to trigger a contraction that had such back pain I began to hate the car, my mom (who was driving) and Seattle road construction which seemed to delay our drive by hours. I really have no idea how long that drive was but it seemed like an eternity.

Finally home, I made it upstairs where I settled in and sat upright in my bed. I really zoned out there, staring at a calendar with a momma lioness and her cubs on the wall. It’s funny to admit it, but my labor chant as I stared at the calendar was “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, pretty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty…..all through each contraction. I think my mom tried to encourage me to move positions but I outright refused. The pain in my back was so intense and the memory of feeling like the baby would “fall out” seemed like it really could happen. I don’t think I told them what I was feeling, or I’m sure they would have reassured me that the baby would not just “fall out”. I had a lot of internal fear, and amazement at how much pain I had in my back and how I thought each contraction surely meant my baby was coming soon. My contractions were quite irregular though, some 4 minutes apart, some 7 minutes apart, some 10 minutes……I would even sleep in-between contractions. Someone called Marge and she and student midwife, Jo (from England), came somewhere around 9 or 10pm. I was afraid that the baby would come before they arrived, but when Marge checked me I was only at 7 cm! I was astonished! I had heard my whole life, “you have baby making hips”! I thought that meant childbirth would be a piece of cake. I never knew it could be so hard. Marge made me get up and go to the bathroom. I tried to say no, in fact I’m sure I did. I do remember a lot of convincing to get me to move. By this point, While in the bathroom on the toilet, I had a very powerful contraction and a huge gush of water that was both soothing and startling at the same time. “What was that? ” I thought.  “Oh, my water broke! I thought that would happen sooner!”  They wanted me to continue laboring on the toilet, but the back pain with my contractions was even worse now that my water had broke. They helped me back to my bed and my pillows. “Here kitty, kitty…..” was no longer sufficient for managing my contractions and now I was panicking. Jo became my champion Doula, she put her face in mine and taught me how to breathe…….He, He, HOOOOOO……He, He, HOOOOO….became my mantra.  Without her help, I knew I would not make it. Each contraction she helped me to breathe, in-between each contraction I slept. Time passed, the sensations got stronger and I was sure I was going to die from the pain in my back. I cried and complained and eventually up came the three bites of apple from earlier. My support team cheered me on telling me I could do it, their kind words made all the difference. Jo, helping me to breathe. Around midnight when I thought I couldn’t go on another contraction, they stopped and I slept for at least 15-20 minutes.

And then another contraction and on the next contraction I was told I could try a little push. I didn’t really understand how exactly I was suppose to do that, and they taught me. When I was finally able to push with the contraction there was such a relief from the discomfort  that I couldn’t wait to push again. I pushed for around a half an hour and was ready to just give up. I felt as though I couldn’t do it anymore. Then Marge told me she could see my baby’s head and asked if I would like to touch her. I reached down and could not feel her, I thought they were lying to me just trying to get me to keep going. Then she took my hand and lead me to where to feel, I could feel her little head! Amazing! This little one was real! I couldn’t wait to see the baby and discover whether she was a boy or girl. To see whether she looked like me or my husband and to hold her in my arms. I was invigorated. With each push I had hope. She continued to make her way into the world and even thought I was asked to move into a better pushing position, I continued to refuse and stayed in a semi-reclining position. Around 1:30 in the morning I felt an enormous amount of pressure, burning and stinging and wanted to stop pushing but I was reminded that I couldn’t give up now,  that the baby was almost here. Then her head was out! Then she was out, warm and wet and wiggly on my belly. A girl! We got our girl! I held her on my belly for a long while. Enjoying her on the outside, instead of the inside. We gave her the name we had picked when she was first conceived. Her name means Strong/ Powerful and Light-bearer. I can’t remember the birth of the placenta, in fact, I was shocked that I had to do it all again but that it didn’t really feel like anything special. My midwives let us enjoy our beautiful Powerful Light-bearer and we watched as they weighed her and measured her right there on the bed. 21 1/2 inches long and 7lbs 14oz in weight, the exact weight of her mother at birth. Big blue eyes and long straight blonde hair. While I was getting cleaned up, I was informed I had a little tear but that I would not require stitching. They taught me how to pee in a bathtub with a few inches of warm water which really helped with the stinging sensation from the tear. As much as that little tear hurt, I knew an episiotomy would have been far worse and was thankful I didn’t have to deal with that. As I settled back down in my clean bed, Marge went to work at getting Miss Light-bearer to show interest in eating and asked someone to get me some food, although I said I was not hungry. Mom made me mac and cheese while I got to filling my baby’s belly with colostrum. It took a while for her to open up and latch on but once she finally did, I was shocked by the strength in which she suckled. Marge and Jo stayed long enough to make sure we were both healthy, fed and tucked in for the night. Then they left us to sleep and discover what our new family would be like.

It was August 20th 1995.

We were now a family of three. Two crazy newlywed twenty year olds and a beautiful newborn baby girl. We slept off an on through the night, nursing every time she made a peep. The following day Marge came to visit and told me I was a pro with her, a natural. She also commented on how enormous Miss Light-bearer’s feet were. It’s true they were…..16 years later she wears a size 10, same size as mine. That day neighbors and friends came to visit us in our bedroom, but they never stayed for long. They let me sleep and we kept track of our temperatures, lochia, and wet diapers all by ourselves. My husband and my mom were the best nurses a new mom could ask for.

Saying hello the morning after her birth.
Weighing in at 7lbs 14oz
Sleeping between contractions.