Friday, April 15

Anna's Hospital Birth Story:

"They allowed my husband and I an entire hour of alone time before 
even weighing our precious son."
My birth story didn't go exactly as I had planned: I had prepared for a midwife assisted, natural, hospital birth. I ended up having a doctor-assisted, hospital birth with an epidural. But I can honestly say that I had a wonderful experience. 

RJ (my husband) and I live a fairly "natural" lifestyle. We both surf and run, we shop for organic foods, grow our own garden, and keep chickens. I didn't eat any sugar my entire first trimester and regularly took probiotics. Along those same lines RJ really wanted me to labor and deliver our son at one of the local birthing centers. There are two midwife ran centers in our area and one of them in particular is very highly recommended. However, a friend of mine had recently had a terrifying experience at the birthing center which resulted in her having an emergency c-section. Her experience, along with my own natural fears (Who among us isn't freaked out about contractions? All our lives we hear about how terribly painful they are and yet no one can adequately describe them. I'll be honest, I was a bit freaked out!) I decided that I would rather have my first child at a hospital and then consider a birth center or home birth for subsequent children.

However, I knew that I wanted to have a natural childbirth. And I knew that if I wanted to go natural in a hospital I would need to be my own advocate. So I met with a friend who is a NICU nurse at the hospital I would be delivering at, and had her give me the scoop on all the different doctors and midwives in the area. I highly recommend doing this! She was extremely helpful and through her recommendation I found a fantastic local doctor/midwife team. My OB is the best baby doctor in town. He has the highest rate of natural births, he is excellent at turning a breech baby and he has delivered two of my friend baby's breech, but he has no bedside manner. Some people thought I was crazy to deal with his abrupt nature and lacking social skills, but I figured I would rather have a vaginal hospital birth than sweet pillow talk during monthly visits with a midwife. And sure enough, I was particularly grateful for his expertise when my baby was breech at 37 weeks. Rather than immediately schedule my c-section he instructed me on a variety of poses to do at home and recommended a chiropractor to help the baby flip, and it worked!
RJ and I also took child birthing classes from a local doula. We enjoyed her classes because they focused on Bradley techniques for natural labor, however, she also informed us about c-sections. I appreciated her wisdom in spending time educating us on the reasons when a c-section really is or is not necessary, what questions to ask the doctors and nurses before going into a c-section, how to avoid a c-section, and what to expect during and after if you have to have a c-section. Being prepared for all scenarios felt very empowering.

I finally went into labor on April 14th (2 days after my due date) at midnight. RJ and I were in bed sleeping. He had a terrible case of the stomach flu and had spent the better part of the evening in the bathroom, so when I woke up to pee and my plug came out I didn't want to wake him. I knew I needed to go back to sleep, but just that morning my midwife had told me I was still shut-up-tight and not to expect much action yet, so I was exciting things were finally happening. Just an hour or so later my water broke, and the contractions started immediately. They were strong, painful, and concentrated in my back. I didn't want to wake my sick husband so I paced the living room by myself until my mom showed up at 6am. By the time mom came the contractions were a steady 7-8 minutes apart and painful. I felt as though a machete was being hacked into my back and the only thing that help relieve the pain was counter pressure. I would stand with my forehead against the wall deeply moaning while a family member pushed into my lower back with their fists - I had bruises for weeks.

Finally the contractions were 5 minutes apart and we went to the hospital. (Next time: I will stay home longer.) At this point I had been in consistent, painful labor for 10 hours. When I got there the nurses immediately wanted to hook me up to a monitor and keep me there, but my husband insisted that I only be monitored once per hour rather than continuously. They put up a bit of a fight but they eventually conceded. I was so thankful RJ had taken the time to educate himself too rather than just leave it all up to me.

When I arrived at the hospital I was only 4 centimeters. Having labored for so long already I was pretty disappointed. (Next time: I won't let them tell me how far along I am. It messes with your head.) I was even more disappointed when I learned an emergency was going to keep my doctor AND my midwife away and unable to assist me throughout the entire experience. Immediately I knew we need the nurses to understand exactly what type of birth I wanted. RJ pulled the head nurse aside and calmly explained to her that I desperately wanted a natural, vaginal birth. At first she seemed skeptical because I was a first-time mom and first-timers always have longer births, but by being clear, concise, and very polite my husband won her over and from there on out she was fantastic. She helped me change positions, get into the shower, use the birth ball during monitoring, etc. Then after 14 hours of back labor when I started crying for drugs she actually tried to keep me going naturally. She encouraged me to continue on with my plan, focus on the baby, try a new position, etc. I continued demanding drugs. I finally lost all composure and sobbed at my husband to get me an epidural. He got the nurse and she made me look her straight in the eye and ask for it before she called it in.
An hour later I was resting and feeling much, much better. My epidural had what they call a "hole". There was a small section of my back that still felt almost everything. In a way I liked it because I could feel that my body was still working to get my baby out. Although you wouldn't know it considering I was still only 4 centimeters dilated! The nursing staff came in and said the doctor wanted to start me on pitocin. Then they actually asked me if that was okay. Bless them! Although I was also initially again pitocin everything had changed. I had endured 15 hours of continuous back labor and seen little "results". I was desperate to see my baby and I agreed to start the drug. I should have known better.

30 minutes later a group of doctors and nurses came rushing into my room. They quickly strapped a gas mask on my face and pushed my family members aside.
The pitocin had put the baby into distress. Again, my fantastic nurse immediately assured me that a c-section was the last possible scenario and helped calm me down. After the emergency moment had passed they took me off the pitocin. The on-call doctor came in to again assure me that a vaginal birth was his preference, as well as mine, and he would continue to do whatever he needed to avoid a c-section.

Eight long hours later I was finally dilated to ten centimeters and ready to push. It had been 22 hours since my water broke and all I wanted to do was see my baby. Unfortunately, I still had to push for an entire hour. But I actually have very fond memories of pushing. My entire family (husband, sister, mom and dad) were in the room. The nurses were encouraging and helpful, and the atmosphere exuberant.
And the most surprising thing of all, the doctor actually stayed in the room for almost forty-five minutes patiently waiting to catch the baby. He never made me feel rushed or nervous about getting things done quickly. He was calm and professional and totally supportive.

                      .  My beautiful, blond-hair boy was born shortly after midnight on April 15th - sharing a birthday with the aunt who watched his arrival. My husband cut the cord, my mom and dad cried, and the fantastic hospital staff immediately put my sweet little man on my chest. Then they cleared out of the way, cleaned me up, and didn't disturb us for over an hour. They allowed my husband and I an entire hour of alone time before even weighing our precious son. They didn't bat an eye when I told them I didn't want him receiving any shots and they assisted in teaching me how to nurse.

I didn't have a perfect birth. There are things I will do differently next time (if there is a next time. Adoption is my new birth story - we are Ethiopia bound). But I love our birth story, Landon and mine. It's the story of our start, our beginning - his little life and my journey into motherhood. In two years I've learned that motherhood is a bumpy, twisty ride full or unexpected surprises. I had to learn to go with the punches from the very onset. Landon's birth didn't go exactly the way I had initially hoped, but both of us were blessed to start this journey with a fantastic support system - hospital staff included.


  1. Anna, I love that you and your husband put so much effort into preparation and being as healthy as you possibly could! You guys seem like you worked as a team and he was such a great advocate for you when the Doctor wasn't available right away. Luckily he was there or it might have been hard having someone who you hadn't already built all of that trust with. AND you were lucky to have a great nurse. My nurse smelled like cigarettes and fake tanning lotion! I kept wanting to throw up when she came near me! (Thank goodness that my doula doesn't stink!) i don't know if i could deal with the cigarette smell again!

    I think it's really great that the doctor let you have as much skin on skin time as you needed before they took over. That doesn't always happen. I don't hear great hospital stories as often as I'd like, so this story is really refreshing-and much needed!

  2. Chelsea! I know them! Sooooo weird. We went to college with them and Anna was my sister's roommate! I was gonna comment on how precious that top picture was and then I realized it was them. Ok anyway, now I gotta go back and read the story, I was just SO surprised it was THAT Anna and rj!!

  3. Thanks Chelsea for sharing my story! And I love that you posted it on my son's birthday! :)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! If I had a nickle for every time I heard a mom say "My birth didn't go as planned" I'd be RICH! I'm so SO glad you had a supportive staff. Your little man is ADORABLE!

  5. great story anna. I am a strong believer that doing your research on your doctors and (especially) knowing your options at the hospital can do a lot for a wonderful hospital birth. high five for your hubby being such an awesome advocate for you. i sometimes feel like people don't believe that i had not one, but two great hospital births (with some ups and downs of course).

  6. This story made me cry a little... which wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't at work, haha. For how many things went wrong, I'm very happy it all turned out in the end!

  7. Thats a pretty awesome hospital story! It is rare to hear one like yours and I wish that all hospital staff would be more accomodating for laboring women. Especially since each one is so unique!

    I love that you are considering adoption. My Husband and I are too. Although we are not sure where yet.

    Thanks for shring your beautiful story.

  8. Huzzah for a supportive hospital birth story! I wish I could have sent Chelsea some other positive hospital stories... such as my friend who labored for nearly 24 hours, all-natural, or another friend whose nurse had the instinct to do an extra checkup, and caught a serious disability in her daughter's throat that required surgery. Hospitals CAN be wonderful places to birth your baby, just as birthing centers and home births can. I feel the important thing is -not- to get wrapped around what you think the "perfect" birth will be. Be educated, make decisions, but do what is best for you, your body and your baby... even if that means changing your mind when the time comes.

  9. Yay for great doctors and nurses! They can be hard to find these days...

    Something that came to me after a few hospital stays, an epiphany of sorts: "These nurses and doctors work for ME." I was paying them an arm and a leg (uninsured), so like any other service, I better get what I paid for! You don't like a mean nurse who won't respect you, demand another! Stand for what you want, don't let them push you around, they work for you!

    I had all amazing nurses with my 1st, expcept for one. When I started crying at the prospect of another blood transfusion, she yelled at me, "Fine! You want to go home and DIE?" My mom got up and ordered her out of the room, when she tried to talk again, my mom shut her up, said, "Not another word, OUT! And don't come back!"

    I got another nurse.

    And I didn't have to have the last unit of blood. My doctor came in and said he ordered it just to be safe, but he had no idea it was taking such a toll on me, and if I promised to go home, eat well and rest, I should be fine. I loved him. (He died 3 months after I had Will from ALS. One less AMAZING doctor in the world.)

  10. So cool that this family is planning on adoption!

  11. Beautiful birth story as usual. Sounds a little like mine only my water broke much later and the pushing....not so great. I am so grateful for the wonderful staff at the hospital where Kai was born. The nurse that was super supportive of my want to labor naturally and when things werent going as planned, made sure that I was taken care of, informed, and that I was in charge. She stayed way after her shift until Kai was born too. The doctor and midwife who took calls from my mother who wanted to make sure I was taken care of. I think if we celebrate good medical providers more that there will be more of an incentive for them to work with and for you.