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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Birth Story

  Surely you didn't think that just because my life is a train wreck right now that I would forget to post my birth story, did you? Well, I finally made it back to bed after yesterday and this morning running around making funeral arrangements for my little sweetie.

    I'm so pleased to have something happy to share; although it is sad to lose a baby, the birth was great. I'm pretty sure that God felt bad that He couldn't use all our prayers the way we wanted, so He went ahead and applied them to the birth itself. ( :
    One thing you have to understand about me in order for this birth story to make sense is that I'm...well, I'm pretty arrogant. I don't like be proven wrong. I didn't want to raise false alarm and drama by saying I was in labor only to be enduring regular pregnancy discomforts. I woke up at 3:30am on the 11th with bothersome contractions. They kinda came and went through the morning and early afternoon, and we went about our day normally. By mid afternoon they were causing me significant grief but I've got and excellent poker face so nobody knew, not even Paul, and me being so stoic I didn't say much about it. What I did was say that labor could be coming in the next few days or weeks, so we needed a plan. Around 7pm I called my midwife to work on that plan - and as if to confirm my worst fears and seal the deal for Worst Pregnancy Ever, she sadly told me that with my low iron and the amount of blood loss I'd had, she had to risk me out of home birth! She knows me before she got off the phone she warned me not to attempt an unassisted home birth because it really could be dangerous.
     By 9:30pm I was not a happy camper, but did I tell anyone I was in labor? Nope. Poor Paul, what a position to be in. Here I am, I'm supposed to be the one who "knows" these things but I wouldn't admit to anything still. He said to me around that time, "Ya know Gina, you're acting pretty labory if you ask me..." I kept pacing , kneeling, leaning but pshawed him for saying such a thing. I was wondering if having such low fluid was just making braxton hicks feel much worse. We took a few belly bump pictures in between contractions as a keepsake for this pregnancy, since we didn't have any yet.
    Finally at 10:00 we hit the dusty trail to Winchester Medical Center. We parked at 10:30, and I checked in at the Emergency Room. Perfect poker face. A lady had to wheel me up to Labor and Delivery (hospital policy) and we talked and joked all the way up. I provided all my information to the front desk without a single wince...oh but I'm sly, I just leaned this way and that when need be so that she wouldn't think I was being a big baby about a little pain. They took me to a weird little back room (that's when Paul came in) and asked me to pee in a cup. Looking back on  it, that was right during transition. I peed but....forgot to pee in the cup. Oops. I went out into the room again, they wanted me on a bed. do things that I had so dreaded about a hospital birth. I began to face the fact that I must be in labor. I started roaring, something I would be doing a lot of in the next 15 minutes or so. I roared at the nurse "Nooooooooo waaaay am I getting on that.....BED!!!!!" Ok, so the way they felt they could deal with that was to have me walk down the hall to another bed! The nurse told me that the doctor would check to make sure I was actually in labor. The plan was to do an ultrasound, and check my cervix. I did manage to get on that bed with great misery and loud roaring, but I was getting that little catch we get in our throats when it's time to push. They didn't have time to do those things. The doctor wanted me guessed it...another bed, the bed that I was supposed to deliver in lying obediently on my back. I made my way to that room, it was 11:25, and as the nurse and doctor bustled around as quick as they could to "set up" for the birth, I reached down and caught my baby girl before they had a chance to give me an IV, before they even turned on the bright overhead light (one of the things I really, really dreaded about a hospital birth), and before anyone had time to enforce the order to get in bed. Nobody even saw except Paul, the way I'd wanted it. My world had shrunk quite a lot, and at that moment I don't remember anything but the soft skin of my daughter finally in my arms and that sweet, miniature cry that meant she was still alive. However, Paul tells me I hadn't quite finished my roaring spree, for when the nurse came to take Phoebe from me to do whatever it is she wanted to do, apparently I roared one final roar: "She's MINE!!!!!", and then I snuggled with my daughter, content, in the bed assigned. I got to do the things that every mother should be able to do - I admired her tiny toes, delicate fingers, felt her soft hair, and kissed her incredibly soft face. Although the midwife who had supported me so constantly throughout my entire difficult pregnancy didn't make it on time for the birth, she was on the scene just minutes later to continue emotional support. Those few hours we had with Phoebe were perfect. 
   I'm pleased with this birth in many ways, one of them is that it turned out to be an unintentional experiment for my doula work. A successful one! I had actually been with that same doctor for a birth as the doula, and she was like any doctor then- making orders and not exactly including the mother in the decision. But I came in and since I was in transition I wasn't really thinking or caring about doctors, so I decidedly did things the way I wanted. The nurse and doctor were delightfully timid about their suggestions for the rest of our time there. Example: " Ma'am, do it ok if we uh, maybe try a shot of pitocin to get the placenta out? Or maybe you don't want that....", and "Gina the doctor wanted to know if you would let her check you one more time. Would that be ok with you?" Magical respect! As if  I was in charge! The only thing that made me feel like a patient in a hospital was the plastic armband. When the placenta was born I declared casually that I'd be taking it home with me and the nurse said, "Ok dear, I'll put it right in a container for you."  I'm not foolish enough to think that the circumstances being what they were didn't contribute to this impressive change of behavior, but I have concluded that the mother being 100% adamant about her plan and assuming the role as ring leader is the best way to have a good hospital birth.
    The hospital staff was very respectful about giving us our space. They just disappeared and left us to get to know our little one. The lights were dim in that room from the moment we walked in. It was very peaceful, and although there is a hospital policy that limits guests to only three, they never said a word when family began trickling in to meet the newest member.  I had been worried that there would not be the usual joyful energy that is a part of normal birth, but it was there. We were happy and smiling the whole time Phoebe was alive with us. I'll remember that birth every bit as fondly as I remember Jonah's birth.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing Phoebe's amazing birth story. What a great story and what amazing little girls (yes, both you and Phoebe!) I am saddened that Phoebe is no longer on this earth with you, but know that she is proud of her mommy and will always be near. Yay for you - telling them how things would progress. You're amazing, Gina!


  2. Gina, tears are flowing as I write this. Hon, I'm so, so sorry that you didn't get to keep her forever. Knowing she's forever in your heart and you have good memories of what is one of the toughest things a mom ever has to go through: well that's a comfort! YOU are one amazing, incredible person! My prayers will be for you both this week and if there is anything I can do, please let me know. Much love,
    Ruth Chichester

  3. That is such a beautiful birth story Gina! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you for being so open and sharing this with us. You will continue to stay in my prayers.

  5. gina, you are so generous to share this beautiful story with us--thank you for sharing your joy, your power, your birth bliss. what a blessing--you deserved a happy birth, and i'm so glad you got it. :)

  6. Gina, your birth story is beautiful and honestly, heroic. Phoebes birth-story will forever stand out, there at Winchester Med. Center, I'm sure, and to all those who know birth isn't scary and traumatic, your story will be one to share. Your example, everything you did for your daughter will shine bright for _all_ women who wish to bring their babies into the world without unnecessary "assistance" - even women like you, who know they will only hold their baby for a short time. I can't say for sure, but I believe you may have forged new ground and Phoebe's story may help other mom's in your place, where they may feel "no choice" because of the "circumstances" have the courage to speak up for what they want. I'm loving the respect you were given, I'm loving that you caught her. And wow, to be a doula with THIS under your belt - that's something. But, to loose a child, the story is wonderful and deeply sad to me - your heart now, my care and thoughts are with you and your family.

  7. I'm glad you had a wonderful hospital birth! I had a great out of hospital birth, but my daughter died unexpectedly shortly after. I am expecting again and facing a hospital birth this time. Your story gives me hope, thank you for sharing.