Wednesday, December 28

Kristi's {Natural} Hospital Birth:

I've come to know this sweet lady over the last few months and I know you will be enlightened by her birth story. After reading her story, I felt a sense of empowerment after seeing how she was able to stand up for her rights and opt out of procedures that she felt were not necessary during her labor. She stuck to her guns and convictions. (If only I had known her when I was preparing for my first labor!). I'm glad she was able to have a pleasant hospital experience even when things didn't necessarily go as she had planned with her Dr. not being able to be at her birth etc. She has taught me SO much about motherhood and I often depend on her advice and friendship! She has been a great mentor to me! (3 of her 5 beautiful kiddos have since been born at home.)

Kristi's Story:

This is the story of my second-born child, my first son, and my first natural birth. I did not choose natural because I "want a trophy" or any other similarly silly reason. I chose it because I believe in it. I believe it's possible and beneficial for most women, not all. I believe it is a personal choice, and would not look down on someone for their choice. Choosing natural childbirth has changed the woman I am. It has deepened my faith in God and in myself. I have learned new things from each of my births. This birth taught me that I am strong, even when I don't think I am, even when others don't think I am, even when others think I may be crazy. Each of my natural births connected my husband and me more than my epidural birth. I don't believe natural birth is the only way to accomplish those things, but I know from experience that it has been a great tool in helping me accomplish those things in my life and in my marriage. 

On Dec 26, 2005, Scott had the day off and I decided that I wanted to get all the Christmas decorations down so that they would be done before baby boy made his arrival. Who knew that would start a yearly tradition? After the decorations came down, I realized I hadn’t felt C move much in the past hour or so. I laid down and drank some orange juice to try to wake him up. He didn’t really wake, so I called my doula, Sherry Asp, and asked her opinion. She said to head into Reno and check his vitals. I started counting my contractions on the way to Reno, they were about a minute long and 10 min apart. He was moving a little now, but it was about 6pm, and there was a possible snowstorm that night, so we thought we would go ahead and get into Reno before the temperature dropped too much. At the time, we lived in Fernley, NV which required a drive through the mountains in order to get to a hospital. So, we called the Webbs, who were watching R for us, and they met us at a McDonald’s in Reno to take her. We grabbed some food for us too.

We checked into the hospital, C was doing fine, and I was dilated to 6cm. We were admitted, and we called the doula to meet us there. I informed the nurse of my birth plan - no drugs, intermittent monitoring (15min/hr), a hep-lock instead of IV, leaving the cord attached until after the placenta was delivered, and immediate nursing for the baby. She did the heplock and left. I knew my doctor was on vacation, he had warned me, so I knew it would be luck-of-the-draw. I also declined the hospital gown. I hated trying to keep that stupid thing closed with my first birth, and there was no need for it here. After about 20 minutes, the nurse returned to say that the doc on call really wanted me on monitoring the whole time. I politely declined. I also began to sneak chicken nuggets whenever we were alone in the room. While eating at one point, the doc came in. I thought for sure I was in for a lecture. He didn’t say a word. I explained to him that I wanted to be able to move freely, and that I discussed this with my doc (he was a supervisor at the hospital, so I thought a little name-dropping couldn’t hurt). He said he didn’t mind at all, that he hadn’t told the nurse I had to stay on the monitor at all. Hmmmmm. Someone lied. I still don’t know who. After about an hour, the nurse said it would just be easier to go ahead and hook me up to an IV now just in case something went wrong. I had hemorrhaged with R’s birth, so I had already consented to pitocin after the birth. I asked, “Since I have the heplock, isn’t the time difference less than 5 seconds? I’d rather not. I want to be able to move around.” She tried to convince me that I could still move around, I would just have to wheel the IV cart around. Yeah, thanks, but no. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We watched Jay Leno, laughed and goofed off. If I had been at home, I would have been sleeping, but I was too excited. I did nap off and on. She seemed willing to experience it right along with us. She also told me that I should just do a shot of pitocin in my leg instead of putting it in the IV. We did decide to leave the heplock in, just in case, since it was already there, even though it was uncomfortable. (We never needed it.)

At about 5am, the doctor came in and said he wanted to check my progress. I was dilated to 9 cm, he told me. He then asked the nurse for a hook. She handed it to him. Immediately, red flags went up in my mind. “A hook? That can’t mean what I think it does? [to break my water] Surely he would ask first...” Very quickly, he had the hook package opened and in hand. I asked, “Wait... what are you doing?” He responded, very matter-of-factly, “I am going to break your water.” My head was saying, “Oh, really? You’re going to break something of mine, without asking me first? Nice try.” I managed to politely say, “I would like to discuss that with my husband first.” He looked astounded that I would dare even consider not going along with his will. He stood from the bed, stormed to the door, ripped off his glove, threw it in the trash, turned around and said, “You’re not at a 9 anyway, you’re only at a 6,” and left. Well, thank you, I didn’t realize they allowed two-year-olds to become doctors. I quickly realized his shift was over in 2 hrs, and he just wanted a paycheck for delivering my baby. I looked at my belly and told little man to just hang in there till after 7, because I didn’t want that doctor anywhere near us again.

Baby boy complied.

When the doctors changed shifts, the new woman came in, and was very nice. She was supportive of my birth plan, and checked on us every few hours, but largely left us alone, achieving a really good balance. We walked around the hospital a few times and basically just hung out, trying nipple stim and taking cohosh tincture. One time when the doc came in, at about 1pm, she explained that C was head down, and very low and said she would break my water if I wanted to. At this point, maybe I should have waited, but I was anxious to meet him, and had been in the hospital for about 18 hrs. So I consented, and she broke my water.

Until that point, I had barely felt my contractions, but once the water was broken, they came fast and furious. I found relief changing positions, particularly on all fours. Sherry would gently tap twice on any muscle that I was tensing, something we had practiced. That was a reminder to me to relax that muscle. It was very effective, because it was something we had worked out before. I didn't feel like she was telling me what to do, but rather, using a gentle reminder to tell me something I wanted to do. The fact that it was non-verbal was nice for me also. I got in and out of the shower, each contraction getting stronger. I felt like I was in the movies, groaning and yelling. Sherry used counter pressure on my lower back, and Scott was very encouraging throughout. Without those two things, I don’t know if I could have made it through. During one contraction, with Sherry doing counter pressure, I thought, "If she did nothing else, this woman is worth every penny." I considered the epidural, but I ran through the reasons I had decided not to use it in my head, and knew that I wanted to stick as closely to my birth plan as possible.

I told Sherry that I thought I needed to poop, and asked if it was normal. She said that it was fine and helped me to the toilet. It was there that I realized I didn’t need to poop, I needed to push! I decided then and there that I was comfortable on the toilet and would birth there. haha! Sherry got to where we were eye-to-eye and firmly but nicely said, "Kristi, you can NOT have this baby on the toilet." I trusted her and knew she would not have had that tone of voice with me if it weren't a good reason, so I got off and moved towards the bed. She later told me she has caught babies that way, but you run the risk of them hitting their head on the porcelain, and they go from warm womb to cold water. I had not thought of either of those things!

I got back in in the bed, again on all fours. We called the nurse, who, of course, had to check my dilation. She complained to Sherry that she hated checking dilation while I was in that position (hands and knees) because it was hard for her. I said, “Fine, I I’ll roll over.” I was a little annoyed, because, really, I am the one who should be comfortable, not her, but I didn’t want to be a diva. I rolled over, she announced I was at 10cm and fully effaced. By this point, the urge to push was undeniable and unable to be ignored. They called the doctor, but the one on call was in her office across the campus. So they called the perinatologist, whose office was in the hospital itself. I remember the nurses coming in and telling me I couldn’t push yet because the doctor wasn’t there. I said he better hurry up, or I was doing it without him. I looked at Sherry, and said, “I’m fine with you catching this baby!” She was training to be a midwife at that time (she is a midwife now). They told me I could turn back over if I wanted to, but I did not feel like I could move. They also asked if I wanted to feel his head, but I was holding myself up with my hands, because putting my hips down on the bed caused too much pressure. I said, “I would really like to, but I can’t.” I’m still amazed at my ability to form such polite sentences at the time (especially considering I yelled at my midwife with L’s birth, 2 years later when I birthed at home. Maybe I was just more comfortable with my surroundings and freedom to express myself with L, or maybe I became less concerned with what other people think of me).

The perinatologist came in and introduced himself, Dr. Globe, I think. For some reason, I said, “I hope we don’t make a mess on your nice shirt!” I guess I really liked his shirt. It probably had something to do with the fact that all the other doctors had been in scrubs, and he was dressed very nicely. He told me that was not a problem, and put a gown and gloves on. Because I had waited so long, once he got into position, I pushed very hard, and C was out in about 2 pushes. Sadly, the doctor cut the cord immediately. I tried to say something, but he was very fast. I knew he did not have time to review my birth plan, so I wasn’t upset, but I was disappointed. 

They set him up on my chest, and I said, “Hi, little guy!” 

Of course, it was love at first sight. He began nursing like a champ right away. The doctor told me several times that he was not pulling on the cord, but that the placenta was coming on its own. I thought that was kindof cute, and I really appreciated it, considering the doc had pulled my placenta to get it out with R, and that is almost certainly the cause of the hemorrhage. They called the time of birth at 3:00 pm, about 2 hours after my water was broken.

They took C and put him under the bili lights while the doctor started to stitch me up; I tore because I pushed so quickly. I know I asked him about 12 times if he was going to use a local anesthetic. Childbirth without drugs serves a good purpose, stitches without them is silly! He laughed and asked if I wanted them. I was very enthusiastic when I said yes. I whined that I wanted my baby back, and the nurses said they were trying to get him warm. I told them that I was plenty warm enough to warm him and he wanted to nurse again. They gave him back to me, and he nursed again. I did have to trade back and forth with him on the bili lights to make the nurses happy though.

When they moved me to a new room, I told the nurse I had to go to the bathroom, and she insisted on helping me to the bathroom. She was surprised at how easily mobile I was, which I found somewhat amusing. It’s amazing what you can do when you can move your own legs! (With my first hospital birth, after my epidural, I couldn’t move anything below my ribs until about 10am the next day, she was born at 12:37am; it was awful.) After the bathroom, I asked her to help me with my sweatpants, I had refused to wear the hospital gown the whole time. She joked about me liking to be covered in my own clothes. I said yes, I was just more comfortable that way. She took me to my new room, and we ate dinner - it was actually very good! Scott went with the nurse to give C his first bath, and when he brought him back, he was snugly wrapped in a blanket inside a stocking! I wish I had that picture to show you, but it's trapped on a dead laptop, still in my garage, hopefully awaiting a resurrection. 

***Don't forget to enter {Elle's 1st Give-a-way} if you haven't already!


  1. YAY YAY YAY! This is so encouraging--we can have a natural, hospital birth. I kind of want to punch that first doctor though.

    Thanks for posting this :)

  2. There are so many things that I love about your story Kristi. I love how polite you were with the hospital staff, but you were also firm and didn't waver in your convictions. I love that you hired a doula to be your advocate. When you talk about how your doula would press on your back to remind you to relax it reminds me of you doula doing that same thing, like when i was done with a contraction and i was still holding onto the tention she would tell me to let it go and press on me. That was SUPER helpful! I love that you guys were watching Jay Leno, sneaking chicken nuggets and goofing around. I love that you remember those sweet times with your hubby.

    We talked about (if we needed to go to the hospital during Elle's birth) bringing a robe or something so that I didn't have to deliver in one of those ugly hospital gowns! Why can't they come up with some kind of cute hospital skirt that woman can labor in so that we can be comfortable and cute?! ;)

    I'm glad that you were able to not get thrown off track during labor when all of those things were happening. That doctor would have frustrated me. I love too that you labored on all fours! That is really neat that you did what your instinct told you, even if it wasn't all that convenient for the nurses or doctors.

    Thank you for sharing this story. If I were preparing for my first labor, this story would have been important for me to read and know what I can opt out of, politely! ;)

  3. Thanks for sharing my story! In the picture above, this boy is second from the left, in the green shirt.

    ~Kristi at My Cup Runs Over,

  4. Such a great and informative birth story!! It is so important to me that woman share their birthing stories...oh, the things I wish I would have known with my first!
    Thanks for sharing this, Kristi :)