birth stories

two very different stories, a hospital birth and a birth center/home birth couldn't be farther from the same thing or experience. both resulted in the most wonderful gift, a gorgeous healthy baby - but if only i had known when i had my first baby nine years ago, what i know now, i would have every last one of them naturally and at home/a birth center....
the day stella came into this world...

it is a funny thing to sit and re-write a birth story almost exactly two and half years ago. i loved my birth with stella and the more and more i read her birth story i found myself at a loss, i had not done her big moment any justice, something she and i deserved.

monday, march 22nd i headed in for a routine check at just a few days past my thirty-eightht week. i had tim's mom and rowan in tow because at this point i couldn't possibly wrangle said toddler any longer or fit behind my own steering wheel safely.

i was called back and immediately got down to business, induction? please? see, i had been having contractions for weeks and had left defeated from my last weekly check at only a centimeter dilated. i got the usual brush off at first but was eventually able to get him on the phone with the hospital right there to get me down for a spot by next monday. well, fine, if that is how we'll leave it then can we at least strip my membranes? he had no problem with those terms but while he was at it (sorry) he made a funny face, pulled his glove off, and said all bets are off, we're going over to the hospital right now to have a baby. believe it or not, at some point since my last check i had been walking around at a four to five and had no idea!

i went out to the waiting room in a haze, huge smile on my face - tim's mom kept saying this exact thing was going to happen. of course i didn't believe her so all of our bags, car seat, tooth brushes and so on were still sitting at home and my doctor had made it very clear we were to head straight across the street to overlake hospital.

fumbling to dial the phone, tims mom's, since mine was now dead - i either forgot or misdialed tim's number twice. finally, with the help of tammy i was able to get the call through only to have him not answer. on the second call he answers - "we're having a baby! get your butt in gear!" - i think he was a little in shock despite the fact we had discussed this exact moment in detail many times. we needed to be prepared in case he had a piece of machinery on the job with him that he would need to return and of course he did.

we got to the hospital around two in the afternoon, by then i was in very real labor due to the previously mentioned stripping. we began to discuss where rowan was going, who was picking her up, what we needed from home - all things tim's mom was going to oversee before she came back tot he hospital. with my phone dead it was difficult getting the news out - i still needed to reach my best friend kira so that she could start the process of calling home the parents she nannied for and then heading over.

eventually i was suited into a gown and comfortable in the bed and everything seemed to be falling into place. oh, and i was officially at five centimeters now. tim got there around two-thirty and we got word my mom and sister were on their way. it was now three and they wanted me on a pitocin drip so that my regular contractions that i was having kept up - everyone was pretty confident it wouldn't be a lot longer.

kira finally arrived and tammy with our bags, thank god. we all chatted and joked and waited. i got to a six.

when the ob practice closed, doctor paley headed in and broke my water, this is when i was hit with my first wave of horrible back contractions, something i had never experienced before so i didn't hesitate when my epidural was offered to me at five in the evening. i was a seven to an eight.

let me just stop right here...this is where i tell you about how, again, my epidural did not take, but this time everything was moving so fast i didn't have time to wait for booster shots or to try and replace it, i endured. besides a tiny hint that was taking a little bit of the edge off, i was going just about all natural.

as usual any real time was a blur but i managed to happily chat with everyone while bearing through contractions, until about six-fifteen, all the pressure i was feeling was confirmed with a "she's complete" from my doctor. we kicked most everyone out of the room - tim, my mom, and kira were all that were staying and it was time to push.

so, there i was pushing, pushing, pushing, changing positions, changing foot holders, changing cheerleaders, and nothing, she was not moving. had time stopped? my head was spinning, it is the worst feeling in the world to have that much pressure and know for a fact your baby is not moving any closer to being on the outside, to be pushing for nothing it felt like. my mind was racing with the idea of a c-section and my mom was standing in the corner with a look on her face like i was already being wheeled away for one - then pop!

at almost exactly seven in the evening, she was out, after only forty-five minutes of pushing. i really didn't believe them when they said that is all it had been, time had literally stopped.

she was face up, a star gazer, hence all of the back labor, but she was eight pounds thirteen ounces, and nineteen and a half inches long, pure perfection.

i had labored for about five hours.

the room flooded with everyone who had been waiting in the waiting room and we finally announced her name, stella jolie rohr, a name so fit for a little lady who came out looking up at the stars.

everyone got to oogle over her for a few moments and we made phone calls to those who were not there.

then eventually, i shot our wonderful nurse the times up for them look and everyone was gone just like that - we needed our bonding skin on skin time and a chance to nurse, oh my perfect nurser.

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robin dash rohr, the day he was born...
between a full moon and my favorite holiday, my little prince came into this world...

it is a funny thing the way i wrote my birth story out on my head before it even happened - how the photos would look, how the faces on the people who bared witness to it would look, how the water of the birthing tub would feel, all of it down to the flame-less candles. now, as i sit here to write this birth story, just having gone through and edited some of my favorite photos from the night, i am remembering how raw the whole thing was. not raw in a bad way, but in a way that i could have never wrapped my head around until i was in it, deep in it, or rather it was over and i look back on it.

tuesday when i went in for my thirty-eight week and five day appointment i had an agenda. one that involved the kids already staying with family, our van full of a car seat  our bags, snacks, and a coming home outfit complete with a cute hat - i was going to have my baby that night, my body was ready, white flag and all.

i had a speech and complaints and promises all ready for my midwife heike, but none of that mattered anymore when it was determined that i was already dilated to a six and a half, and despite the home-birth in labor or the labor on its way in or even the three moms to be that had their membranes stripped that morning, i was going to be staying to have my baby boy tonight. it was going to be a busy night.

by time the room i was going to be birthing in was decided, the bed was stripped and prepped, furniture was moved, clothes were changed, the bath was rinsed, and the candles were lit - it was five thirty and my midwife heike would be in any minute to break my water. my water was clear and perfect but there was still some question about the baby moving out of my pelvis easily.

it is weird when you are induced this way - labor isn't immediately set off in all cases. for a month or so i had been having constant and building in intensity contractions but as my water was broken even those ceased to exist. in its place came something else though...

something about the way the baby was brought down into my pelvis with the breaking of the bag or something about not having that extra cushion anymore sent me spiraling with the shooting pain of my sciatic nerve in both legs. I began to find it impossible to stand, a birthing ball became my only option and that wasn't helping labor along in any way.

eventually this subsided with some piriformis stretches and tim helping pull and push on my bent legs until the muscles relaxed, but over all it was a feeling that would linger through my labor. following, was a lot of standing around and people starring at me, puzzled how to bring on a good labor for me. my doula and i walked in the rain, we sent a flustered tim on errands for burger king chicken sandwiches, and i swayed my hips up and down the birthing center halls afraid the whole time people were looking at my diapered butt through my skirt.

we talked about what my labor would probably be like, hard and fast. i had come in at a six and half after all and this was my fourth baby, my body would do work for me in the best way. i was so anxiously awaiting some real action that i was stalling my body and draining the environment of the oxytocin it needed to push me into labor. we plugged my iphone into the dock and the room was suddenly filled with passion pit, regina spektor, mumford and sons, foster the people...all our favorites.

at about eight thirty i was hit with my first real contraction, one that clearly signaled the start of my labor. i announced to my doula i felt a contraction coming assuming it would be like the others i had experienced for weeks, so she took position behind me and lifted my belly high. what came on feeling more like a braxton hick was suddenly lasting and pulsating through my body. this was it.

it was a little while before another one crept on, this time i was on all fours with my doula hovering above me holding a scarf around my belly. again, she lifted and it sent my contraction in a different direction. at this point it was suggested that i labor on the toilet, this was equally silly to me and made perfect sense - something about the way your body automatically relaxes there.

i started fully clothed, facing backwards, laying on a pillow but quickly realized this wasn't going to cut it. i suddenly found myself naked, forward, and leaning on tim who was sitting on a stool in front of me ready with water and a pillow. the contractions started rolling in...

or rather, i can't saying rolling. something about these were nothing i could have ever imagined or had experienced with any of my pregnancies before. there was no start, peek, and coming down from. i was hit hard, hard like i had never experienced in my life - they hit, lasted, then were over. i began to feel a little desperate.

somewhere during a break, my doula who had been watching from her spot on the floor, started to talk to me about moaning with the contractions. her and the midwives had struggled up to this point to remind me to relax my jaw and shoulders with the contractions, that being so tense was making things harder for me and my labor. the moaning would help me move past that.

i had never been a noise maker in labor, or pictured that i ever could be, but suddenly with the next contraction i did it. you could tell i was letting it out unnaturally and timidly at first, but that was overcome quickly when the next contraction hit, building on the last one. low, consistent moaning was all i could do to survive the contractions that were hitting me now. i was in the beginning of transition.

i quickly wanted off the toilet, i didn't have a plan per say - maybe the birthing stool, or a ball, or standing, maybe the tub was ready. at this point i have heartedly yelled out i wanted to go to the hospital and get a epidural. later, my doula and i joked about this because i guess when i said it, i said it with a laugh - that was because i knew there was no way it could happen but it felt necessary to say, or ritualistic maybe? i was feeling desperate and was in so much pain, pain like you can't even imagine.

pain like i couldn't even enjoy my labor for one second. pain that made me forget what i was even working for, my baby to be here in my arms - i had totally wiped my mind of that for now, i just had to survive.

there were a few moments where i was caught with a contraction while trying to decide what my body needed next. hunched over the bed, with tim to far to grab on to, or walking from somewhere to another - these moments were raw and unbearable and i cried.

we had stopped timing contractions at this point, they were at least two minutes apart and moving me well along, it was ok'd for me to get in the tub now. i had never planned on actually birthing him in the tub but i knew i wanted it as a measure of pain relief and we would see what happened from there. the second i was in the water i wanted out.

my midwife, who had been absent mostly, leaving everything to her two students, suddenly popped her head in. "you sound close!" i did? it is a funny thing how they can pick up on the change in my voice, signaling where i was in my labor, where my baby was. she had been all the way down the hall and around the corner. then, at some point everyone disappeared and returned wearing sweats and pajamas - birthing clothes?

i couldn't get comfortable at all - not on my knees, relaxing into the grooves of the tub, on all fours or anything. then i remember at one point coming out of a contraction, i opened my eyes to find five people lined up in a row just starring at me. my midwife picked up on my dislike of the image immediately and got up and moved, i muttered something about feeling like a marine animal then demanded help out the water.

i wanted on the bed, i asked if i could lay on my side - i was suddenly picturing myself pain free in the fetal position...how fitting. so all hands available quickly wrapped towels around me and i somehow managed my way to the bed in the middle of the contraction, the bed was the one place i had previously thought i would not birth my baby on. i remember clearly as each new contraction came on my breathing would change and i would whisper to tim in a deep choked voice, "one is coming."

i was in this thick of it. nothing made me happy, people offered me water and tried to hold my legs up for me and i thrashed and said no, a lot. i clawed at the headboard and tim, using anything i could for leverage. i finally broke down and asked my midwife to check me, at this point no one had since i had my water broken.

her answers were so un-fullfilling - "you have this much cervix holding on (holding up her two fingers just slightly apart)" i screamed for her to tell me what that meant - how far did i have to go? i really was at a loss why i wasn't feeling pressure to push yet.

a contraction hit and i officially gave up on any control of my voice, i was screaming and thrashing - the animal in me had absolutely taken over and consumed me, was in control of me as much as i was of it. it was like a rubber band had snapped - suddenly everyone's faces were elated and hands were ready to catch a baby. tim was summoned to a different position, he was going to catch our son. i remember hearing my midwife call attention to her two students, "see how it is all so clear now? there is the baby!" and suddenly i was pushing.

my midwife now filling the hole where tim had stood, became my anchor to the world - with my arms and upper body clinging to her right leg i pushed my baby's head out.

no one telling me when to push, counting in my face for how long, or telling me when to stop. i wanted him out and it was happening on my terms, i could feel him completely and knew exactly where to focus my body to move him down. i remember the panic i felt when the contraction had left me and all i had pushed out was his head, then i sat and watched the faces of everyone in front of me and giggled - it was such a quick passing scene but what i was seeing was tim's face in between four other women's faces and something about the sight was funny to me.

suddenly time stopped, or it just became a blur, but another contraction had consumed me and i could now hear my son crying and hands working fast to free him of his tangled cord. then he was in my arms at ten-twenty four pm.

the very last photo down there is a moment my doula caught the second he had been placed on my chest - i was yelling, "oh my god! i feel so good! that feels so good!" if you have given birth, you can relate exactly with that moment.

his cord stopped pulsating almost immediately and tim got to cut the cord of his new son. everyone waited on their toes as we introduced our new son, robin dash. he immediately latched on to nurse.

if you were doing the math while you read on, my water was broken at five-thiry but i didn't have a contraction till about eight-thirty then just short of two hours later my son was in my arms. it was a whirlwind.

later one of the student midwives gave me a "tour" of my placenta and made it a point to reassure me, that while i wasn't full term yet, i knew my body was ready to birth this baby. while it was still completely viable, my placenta was showing signs that it was on its way out. she laid it flat and reminded me that when i wanted to be up and vacuuming in a few days that there was a wound this exact size inside of my body now. it really is a wonder the time and care that midwifes put into your birth versus anything i have ever received at a hospital. we choose to even encapsulate my placenta, but more on that later...

i wonder a little what would had been different if this had been my first birth and so on. as painful and intense as it was from start to finish, i would do it again in a heartbeat. it was everything and nothing like i expected but one of the most rewarding things i have ever done in my life.

eight pounds/ fourteen and a half ounces and twenty-two and a half inches of pure boy deliciousness.

we left an hour or two after he was born and were in bed at home as a new family of six, less then nine hours since we had arrived. this boy has my heart. 

i have felt amazing since the second i stepped foot out of the birthing center. i spent the first few days in bed constantly snuggling and nursing my insatiable little dude, but i was totally ok with that. since then i have moved to the couch, but spend a little more time on my feet, letting tim hold him while i acclimate myself back into life with two other little ones. after all, tim goes back to work next tuesday and i have to put my stay at home mommy pants back on and life will attempt to resume to normal. life has been so good to me and my family.

and that is the story of my little prince, robin dash.