"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Birth Story

*Ivy was due August 12*
Ivy Ana Armendariz
7 lb 12 oz, 20"
12:44 pm, Sunday, August 5, 2012

When I went to the chiropractor July 23, Ivy's teeny, tiny head slid down, down, down, into my pelvis.  For the first time in 4 pregnancies, I felt like waddling (which I did NOT allow myself to do- nothing worse than being huge AND waddling!).  The next day, I had a gush of blood while feeding the ducks at Boys Town with my little people, and my first thought was, "O no, that's my placenta!"  But my sisters, my mom, my husband, my midwife- everyone reassured me it was probably NOT the case.  (Terra, if you are reading this- I kept thinking of you and Jane!!!)  After a visit to the midwife, I came home and tried to rest, but couldn't.  I decided to check into the hospital my midwife catches at for a sonogram and non-stress test. 

The sonogram could not detect any placental issues, nor any cervical issues, so I went home, much relieved.

The following Saturday, I started having contractions and the bleeding started again.  This time, my midwife wanted me in the hospital, but I insisted I was fine.  I wasn't keen on another sonogram, having just had one, or more monitoring.  I just wanted to rest where I would be comfortable.  But, alas, no sleep could be had.  Contractions continued, picking up between 1am and 3am.  When I called my midwife, she wanted me to take a shower or bath and I got a little testy.  "If I get in the water, and I am in labor, I won't make it to you," I snapped.

So in we headed, with all 3 kids, at 3am.  Contractions weres still regular and strong- till we stepped into the birth center.  When they stopped, dead.  I was extremely irritated and didn't say much.  We hung out for a bit and went home, all of us falling exhausted back into our beds.  I was happy to sleep... except no sleep was to be had.  Contractions started back up, strong and steady, and lasted all day.  The bleeding had stopped, though, so I just laid down and tried to relax.  Things petered out about 8pm, and after checking myself (4cm dilated), I fell into an exhausted sleep and slept for 12 hours.

Then commenced a normal week, including a trip to Marysville, Kansas, with Ed.  I didn't want to be alone and I was happy to get away from the city for a bit with the kids.  Baby's head was still wedged so deeply that I was trying not to worry about how I could go possibly 3 more weeks like that. 

Saturday, August 4, I decided we needed to do some sightseeing here in Omaha, since all we've been doing since our move here 4 weeks ago is working on our house.  We spent the day away from home playing different places, and then we attended 5pm Mass, in our Saturday kicking-around clothes, which is very unusual for us. 

As soon as we got home, I started spotting- AGAIN- so I laid down for the night at 7 pm.  I was dog tired and that was a good thing.  I had about 3 contractions before falling asleep, barely conscious I remember thinking, "O, no, those don't feel good at all..."

I slept till 9am and woke to a hard contraction.  I kept thinking I'd get up and see what was going on downstairs, but every time I almost got out of bed, I decided to lay back down for the next contraction... although they were only 15 minutes apart and it really didn't feel like labor. 

Hunger finally got me out of bed at 10 am.  Over a bowl of oatmel with bananas and walnuts, I started thinking, "Gee, that feels funny... and uncomfortable."  I couldn't finish my breakfast and went to sit down on the toilet.  I had 1 contraction and started feeling uneasy... I was pretty sure I had involuntarily born down a little bit at the peak of that one.  I checked myself... and felt a head through what I thought was a bulging bag of waters, low and even pushing out.   I sent Ed for a mirror and when I had a look, I asked for the phone immediately.

I told the midwife I was seeing a bulging bag of waters, but it was dark red as if it was full of blood.  She assured me that was highly unlikely and the bulging was probably something else like a cystocele, and that she wasn't too concerned with the pushy feeling.  She said it would probably be tonight since my babies always come in the night- just let her know when I wanted to come in.

Her lack of concern calmed me, but I really needed some counterpressure on that bulge, whatever the heck it was.  So I had Ed scrub the tub and I poured in 2 cups of epsom salts and a wee dram of jasmine absolute essential oil, my traditional labor bath. 

The contractions- 2- in the water seemed more manageable, but the darn bulging was not cool.  I said my St. Gerard prayers and pressed my St. Gerard relic over my belly, also a personal labor-bath tradition of mine.  *TMI warning*- the second contraction, 20 minutes after getting in, pushed out some poop.  So I got up and showered off, then went to lie down.

The very first contraction lying down made me panic.  It was too hard.  I called my friend, then my mom, who listened through 1 contraction and told me to GO.  Even if I had to just hang out in the parking lot of the birth center.  I called my midwife and told her I was handling the contractions very poorly and I just really needed to come in.  In just a few minutes, my sister had the kids whisked away and Ed was packing the car.  I can't remember exactly what my sister said when she peeked in on me, but it made me feel a lot better.

The car ride lasted 22 minutes.  Suddenly the contractions were 3 minutes apart and I was vocalizing through each one; I also had to bear down with each one.  I tried to keep the pushiness low, only using enough to prevent the contraction from completely overwhelming me.  Or really, just trying not to scream.  At one point we came to a standstill behing a wreck.  I almost told Ed to pull over right there, since there were medics and firemen milling about, but then traffic went and we were off.  Very fast.  I was clutching my St. gerard handkerchef with the St. Gerard relic inside, to my belly and gripping the door handle with the other.  For dear life.

The last contraction as we were entering the parking lot was insane.  I *absolutely* decided I could not do this any more.  Period.  What if I'm at a 5 and I'll be in labor for 2 more hours?  I think the first word that crossed my lips to my midwife was "epidural."

Sadly, Ed decided to move the car, and therefore missed the birth.  I'm pretty sad about that still.  I did tell him to answer my phone, though, so it was partially my fault. 

I managed to walk to a room and throw off my robe.  My midwife started the whirlpool tub.  All I could see was a counter, where I wanted to lean.  So lean I did.  "Oh!" cried the midwife, "That IS your bag of waters!"  (No time to say I told you so just then...)  A contraction started, I whined, and then my water broke, blood-red and black with meconium, all over the floor and my shoes.

"No, no, no, really, I can't do this anymore!" I yelled at her.  "Uh, you don't have to.  She's right there, just push her out."

I really wasn't going to do it, but with the fading of the contraction, my body gave a heave and out she came, howling, into the ungloved hands of a very surprised midwife.  Ed dashed in, and I just stood there, rather in shock.

I took the baby and managed to slide into bed, unwinding the cord from her legs as I went.  We could tell she was no 9.5 pound baby.  She was, to us, teeny tiny.

I did hemorrhage over the next hour, and then some (but the placenta came on its own, usually a problem for me).  1250 cc or 43 ounces, to be exact.  But I felt and feel just fine.  I've been using herbs and chlorophyll in the last few weeks in preparation for that, as bleeding during third stage is 'normal' for me.

Then I got super-duper shaky and freezing cold as the labor and birth hormones finally 'caught up' with me.  Maybe something to do with the pitocin and misoprostol I agreed to to help stop the bleeding, also?  I was going to eat placenta, but the meds were needed in the moment to get a fast, sure action.  I was not about to transfer NOW.  The cold shakes and bleeding prevented me from enjoying Ivy for about 2 hours in there, but she nursed through it all like a champ. 

I suppose I should have had the placenta, too, as everyone swears by it.  But honestly, as crunchy and hippie as I am... eating placenta has always freaked me out.  However, a wonderful lady is drying and encapsulating my placenta for me even as I write.  So hopefully I can force myself to down the pills.

The placenta did show an abruption.  But there is no way to know when it happened.  My gut tells me the original bleed was, indeed, an abruption.  But minor enough not to compromise baby.  This is the reason for all the blood in the amniotic fluid.  Luckily we didn't get there any earlier, because red blood in the amniotic sac would have been an automatic hospital transfer.  I was also the first official postpartum hemorrhage at the Bellvue Birth Center.  Woo-hoo.   

We came home at 6pm to meet the kids.  Aunt Katie said hello to Ivy and then we all snuggled up to marvel at baby.

Ed and I decided we just were where we needed to be, as much as we wanted a home birth, because many if not all homebirth midwives would have transferred for the blood in the waters/ meconium and/ or for the hemorrhage.  So although  the birth center was not our first choice, we feel it worked out well in the end. 

Why all the blood?
Why the nuts-o labor?
Why the small (for us) baby?
Why the abrupted placenta?
Why did Ed miss it?
Why not a smooth and easy birth like last time, so the kids could come?

Who knows.  I guess it's a lot about surrender.

Today I am feeling very happy and grateful- grateful the abruption didn't compromise baby, grateful we avoided an, in the end, unnecessary transfer, grateful Ivy is nursing well, grateful I feel fantastic despite all that blood loss (I swear by my red raspberry leaf tea and chlorophyll).

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say.  "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."  ~J.R.R. Tolkien, "Three Is Company," The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954


  1. Aw, yay! I'm so glad you are both healthy. Reminds me a little of Luke's birth, totally crazy, not that you have time to read, but just in case: http://www.elisaloves.com/2008/08/birth-story-luke-vincent.html Can't wait to see baby Ivy!

  2. Maureen, she is beautiful! I am glad everything was ok in the end. I was thinking about you today and wondering if baby had come.

  3. What a birth story! Car trips in labor are torture. I'm so glad she is here and you are both doing so well. Hugs from KS.

  4. I heard that last plea of yours before she was born. That was when I was on the phone with Ed. Sorry. :)
    Ivy is beautiful. I am so glad you are doing well and that she is nursing like a champ. Take care.

  5. Oh my gosh that sounds so crazy and scary! I'm glad it all turned out o.k. and I'm so happy to see pictures of little Ivy! Congratulations and Enjoy your babymoon!

    1. Crazy, yes, but not scary, actually. I never felt scared, just, um, puzzled. Freaking out about the amazingly powerful contractions, yes, but I wasn't scared for the baby or me even for a moment.

  6. I love this story, and I can't wait to meet that sweet baby! Love you! xxxx

  7. Aw mama, congratulations!! Quite the birth story to be sure, but my she is beautiful!!

  8. Congratulations! I'm glad that everything turned out alright. "Ivy" is a pretty name for a pretty baby.

  9. Loved reading this story. So many congratulations on the birth of your beautiful daughter. ~ Senora