Monday, October 20, 2008

Chuck's Birth Story and Pictures



**This story is meant for me to keep rather than being focused on telling someone else the story so bear that in mind as you read**

Chuck Jonah Barton’s Birth Story
By his Mommy

It’s hard to know where to start, but seeing how he’s now going on three days old, I need to get it written before I forget details due to lack of sleep. (Okay, I technically didn’t finish the story until he was 10 days old.) I had been experiencing labor every night for about five nights before “true” labor started. I would have irregular contractions that would keep me awake most of the evening and through the night. Monday night (the 6th) I was sure the contractions were not going to stop and I would have him soon, but I still woke up pregnant. I was “due” on the 1st but was not anxious at all about being done with my pregnancy. I endured all the discomforts of a term pregnancy with a smile because I knew he was to be my last and knew I would miss the feeling of carrying another life inside me.

Wednesday night (the 8th) I slept fairly well until I was waking up with contractions around 4:00 am. I noticed that these seemed to come more frequently than previous nights, though I was dozing off between them. I began watching the clock since I wasn’t getting much sleep anyway and noticed that they were almost exactly 10 minutes apart. They had never been that regular but I tried not to get too excited. Around 6:00 am I felt like getting in the shower so I woke Greg up and had him shave my legs, figuring today was to be the “birth day.”

I made a few phone calls around 7:30 or 8:00 am to let people know I thought today would be the day, but not to come over yet. As Greg got the kids off to school I told them someone would come pick them up if the baby was coming while they were gone. Greg worked on cleaning and assembling my birth pool as I labored in the bedroom, listening to some upbeat music. My contractions were anywhere from 7-12 minutes apart. I’m not sure what time I called people to start coming over, but I think Jaylyn got here first and Laura and Dy got here about 10:30 am. Josh, the videographer, arrived some time before Deb (my photographer) and Sarah got here around noon. I had a videographer there because I, along with two partners, am producing a series of educational birth videos, one of which is to be on homebirth after cesarean (HBAC). We are also in the process of producing a video on out-of-hospital birth transfer procedures.

The whole labor is already somewhat of a blur because I purposely had the clocks covered up to allow myself to labor unencumbered by the pressure of time. I labored some in the bedroom, leaning over the end of the bed during contractions and sometimes walked around the house between contractions. I sat on my birth ball often and rocked back and forth, working through the back pain I was sure indicated my baby was posterior by having someone (usually Greg or Dy) provide counter pressure or doing a double hip squeeze.

I felt like going for a walk a little while after Dy and Laura arrived. It was nice to be out in the fresh air and Greg was either still finishing up the birth pool setup or had begun making lunch. Once we got back from the walk I was bored so we got Settlers down from the game closet. We never did even assemble the board, but it was a nice thought to keep myself entertained between contractions. As I sat on my birth ball in the front room talking to everyone, Jamie brought my brush out and brushed my hair for me. It was sweet to see her working so hard to keep me relaxed and comfortable. Greg made a delicious lunch of chicken and baked potatoes while my contractions continued. I felt like what they lacked in frequency they made up for in intensity. I may go 10-12 minutes without a contraction, but when it came it was like a true active labor contraction.

I didn’t want to get in the tub too early and slow my labor down or get sick of it because I had been in too long so I waited until I felt like I truly needed it, which I think was after lunch. Right before I got in the tub for the first time, Jaylyn sang to me. She sang “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks and I cried through the whole song, thinking about my sweet baby and how excited I was to meet him. She sang to me twice more during my labor; once with a song called “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant and the other was a song with the lyrics “I Will Love You.” I cried each time her beautiful voice helped me through contractions.

I was in and out of the tub for the rest of the afternoon and evening. When I was in the tub Anthony and Jamie were usually close by. C.J. would also frequently come close to me during contractions, putting his hand gently on my arm, sometimes rubbing very softly. Sometime in the afternoon he wanted to go to his friend T.J.’s house, but he was ready to come home around 6:30 pm. Anthony liked pouring water on me with a cup, but I think he got as much on himself as he did on me! Jamie was so vigilant throughout my long labor. She used a cup to pour water over my back during and between contractions, tickled my shoulder and talked to me. She must have realized she was on camera though because she had three different wardrobe changes and even had three different hairstyles (down, ponytail, braid and back to down).

My sweet husband could not have been more amazing. He lovingly supported me through nearly every contraction I had, often running to my side as one began. At one point I asked him when he ate last and he told me he could eat later because he did not want to leave me. When we talked about my labor late in my pregnancy, he had been concerned that we had not put in enough time “practicing” for the birth as we had with Anthony and Jamie and especially C.J. He was worried he would not be able to support me the way I needed. He could not have been more wrong; taking care of me comes naturally to him.

In the late afternoon, maybe around 2:30 or 3:00 pm I wanted to have a vaginal examination. I was simply curious about my progress, not anxious or nervous that there was something wrong. This showed that I was about 6 cm dilated and only 50% effaced. When Laura and I talked about the lack of effacement, she encouraged me that my cervix was very soft and stretchy even though it was not thin. Although I was wishing I had been closer to delivery, I was not discouraged by the information.

Hannah and Hailey got home from school around 4:15 pm, which was late. They should have been home by 3:45 pm. I had been asking what time it was because I knew they should have been home. I sent Jaylyn to find them and luckily they had just gone to a friend’s house after school. They seemed a bit overwhelmed by everyone in the house and the fact that I was actually using the birth tub that had been sitting in my front room for the past two weeks. I do remember helping Hannah with her math homework and checking both of their papers when they were done. One of them would often come out after I had been making a lot of noise during a contraction only to go back into whatever room they were in and announce to the other, “She’s not having the baby yet” or “No baby yet.” They didn’t seem too excited about the wait.

My photographer, Deb, had to leave to do a photo shoot around 6:00 pm so she taught Sarah how to use her camera and she got some great shots as I continued laboring. At this point I was definitely in active labor with my contractions closer together and becoming stronger. I changed positions frequently, laboring on hands and knees and squatting as much as possible to encourage the baby to turn anterior. I used the bathroom often but had very hard contractions on the toilet, probably due to the simulated squatting position.

I remember having a hard time with my contractions and feeling like I could not do it anymore when it was still light outside. My support team encouraged me that that meant I was almost done, but they said the same thing when it was dark outside. I was VERY frustrated at this point, telling them they had said the same thing when it was still light! I believe Laura had checked me again later in the evening (maybe around 8:00 or 8:30 pm?) and I was around 8 cm dilated; I do not remember if I was completely effaced. She suggested that Greg and I labor alone for a while since my house was bustling with people and activity.

We labored in the bed for a short time before I felt like getting in the shower. I definitely hit transition at this point. I think I needed to be alone with Greg to really let go and “lose it.” He got in the shower with me as I cried about not wanting to go on, feeling frustrated about how long it was taking and that I could not enjoy labor as some women did. I had hoped this time would be different, but the back pain I had was more than I thought I could bear. After I got out of the shower I got in the tub again and my contractions spaced out so much (probably every 10 or 15 minutes) that I was dozing off between them. This had to have been after 9:30 pm. I was enjoying the break between contractions and was simply riding them out rather than working with them directly. I remember thinking at this point that I just wanted to get on my back, push with all my might and have this baby. I even tried pushing through some contractions to see if it felt better or if I could get my water to break on its own, hopefully speeding things up.

After I’d been in the tub for a while, laboring with just Greg, I think Laura checked me again in my room and suggested that it was time to try and have the baby. I don’t remember her telling me how far dilated I was at the time, but I think I had just a lip of cervix left. She suggested we go in the front room where we had set up a birth area by the pool and not let anyone come in until the baby was coming. I started pushing with my contractions even though I didn’t feel like it. It hurt in my back and definitely did not feel right to push. I started losing more blood than Laura was comfortable with, especially considering the fact that I had passed a clot and was continuing to lose more. The baby’s heart rate had been consistently 155 even during hard contractions, but as I began pushing it dropped to around 120. Although this is not an alarming heart rate, it certainly was not normal for him.

I’m not sure when everyone came in the room, but all of a sudden it was full of people. I don’t know how long I pushed, maybe 15 or 20 minutes (during which my water broke spontaneously), before we had Josh turn the camera off so we could discuss what to do. Laura explained that I was losing blood and that the baby’s heart rate was lower. She also later told me that while I pushed my cervix swelled and actually closed to about 7 cm. Someone suggested calling Liz, but we didn’t think there was anything she could do. Sarah asked if Greg had given me a blessing. Josh anointed my head with oil and Greg gave me an amazing priesthood blessing. He blessed me with peace about the birth, however the baby needed to be born. He reminded me that Anthony and Jamie are here because of modern medicine and that sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like them to. He commanded me, in the name of Jesus Christ, to have peace about the birth and to make the right decision. (At least that’s how I remember it going.) As soon as he was done with the blessing I knew we needed to transfer to the hospital. I didn’t know why but I knew it was right. I was truly at peace with whatever would happen there. I was not sure I would have another c-section and was sad to think about the recovery I would experience while trying to take care of my kids, but I knew it would be okay if I did need one.

I said, “Let’s go in” and Greg again suggested maybe calling Liz, trying to give me an out, but I knew it was time to go. Did I mention I’m producing a video on out-of-hospital birth transfer procedures? I swear I did not do this on purpose! As we got ready to leave I told everyone that if the baby was okay I wanted an epidural. Having experienced an “emergency” c-section already when there was NO emergency, I wanted it to be very clear that I was NOT going to have another surgery under general anesthesia unnecessarily. I even grabbed Dy by the shoulders and said, “Dy – I want an epidural!”

We loaded into the van (at about 10: 45 pm), Greg driving, Josh crammed in the deep back with the camera rolling and Dy next to me in the middle seat so she could check heart tones all the way there. (His heart rate never went down, even during hard contractions.) Greg drove quickly and the bumpy ride was not fun, especially during contractions. At one point Greg called police dispatch to inform them that he would not be pulling over if a police officer drove up behind him. He gave them our vehicle description and license plate number. They must have told him to obey all the traffic laws because as he hung up his phone and threw it on the seat he said, “Obey this!”

We arrived at the hospital within 8-10 minutes of leaving my house and a police officer pulled in right behind us. Greg showed him his driver license as we all got out of the van and headed inside. I had a contraction just outside the doors as Greg went inside to get some help. Laura told me that the nurse on shift knew me so I asked if it was Pearl. She said she didn’t know but she was excited to see me. When we got to the doors and I got in the wheelchair, Pearl said, “Janet – What the hell!?” It did not seem that she was asking what the hell I was thinking, but rather what I was doing there again in a similar situation. (Pearl had been one of the nurses on shift when I transferred to the hospital with Anthony and Jamie.) We laughed and joked about the situation as they wheeled me into the room. I told Pearl that I wanted an epidural, hoping she understood what I meant and that I was not exactly begging for medication. On the way to the hospital I did not feel that I would need a c-section, but figured that if I could get the epidural, I could push him out since I would not feel the excruciating back pain anymore that I felt was holding me back from pushing.

I got into the room and had one contraction in the wheelchair before getting on the bed. I had another contraction as the nurses assembled things and tried to put a gown on me. I remember asking, “Why do I have to have that on?” as Laura pulled it off me. My third contraction started as one nurse (Kristen) was finishing inserting my IV. I held my breath and grunted a little with that contraction and I could hear Dy whispering in my ear, “Janet, are you pushing?” I told her I didn’t know and she asked me again, trying to get me to admit that I was pushing and that my body was in fact doing it. I finally said, “I guess.” I think I remember her telling me that I could push the baby out and offering other verbal encouragement. I still wasn’t sure I could do it because the pain in my back was still so intense that I didn’t think I could do it even if my body felt like it.

Pearl wanted to check me and although I didn’t want her to, I just said “Hurry Pearl. It hurts like a bitch!” As she checked me she asked if I felt like pushing through the contractions. I told her I wasn’t sure because of the pain in my back. She said, “On the next contraction pull back on your legs and push with all you’ve got and let’s see if we can’t just have the baby.” As I began pushing with the next contraction I could actually feel the pain in my back moving down slightly, which was encouraging to me because it definitely felt like progress this time. I pushed until I could feel the intense stretching from his head and reminded myself as I felt his face coming out to ease up so I wouldn’t tear. After I had his head out Pearl reminded me to push again for his shoulders as she guided him out with her hands. As soon as he was born I was asking for her to put him on me so I could hold him. Seconds later Dr. Ott walked in and unfortunately immediately clamped and cut the umbilical cord. This may not have been such a big deal though since I delivered the placenta so quickly.

I looked at my sweet boy for the first time, amazed that I had actually birthed him vaginally. We were allowed ample time to bond while I delivered my placenta and Dr. Ott checked my perineum and surgery scar. Since I had come in with bleeding he wanted to make sure my scar was intact and luckily there were no problems. I did not even tear! I know that the priesthood power and my faith in Jesus Christ made it possible for me to give birth the way I did. I am fairly certain that the ride to the hospital helped with his positioning with all the turning, bouncing and moving in and out of the van. There truly are no accidents.

My chubby kid, born at 11:08 pm, weighed in at 9 lbs 13 oz and measured 21 ¼ inches. He had a 14.6 inch head. And although the (apparently ill-trained) baby nurse gave him Apgar scores of 3 and 8, he was perfect in every way. The doctor had said I could leave after 2 hours, but we left the hospital just shy of 4 hours after his birth and it only took that long because I waited around for a RhoGam shot (he’s A+) to save me a trip to the doctor’s office.

I am so happy with my birth experience even though I did not get to push him out here at home and climb into my bed right afterwards. I do not feel any regret or grief over his birth and feel completely empowered by the experience. I was the one calling the shots. And I gave birth vaginally after a c-section! I DID IT!!!

Jamie brushing my hair between contractions
Mommy's little helpers

My boys helping with the water temperature
Helping Hannah with math homework between active labor contractions
The best labor companion in the world

My midwife, Laura, and doula, Dy
The amazing nurse, Pearl, who caught Chuck. She's been there for all of my births except C.J. {I was in American Fork with him}


Laura Hopper, Midwife said...

VBAC stands for VAGINA. I pushed a baby out of my VAGINA.

Thank you Janet and Greg for allowing me to be a part of such an intimate and beautiful birth. Your faith has inspired me. I love you guys.

The Abegglen Family said...

What a great story. Having Bentley without pain meds was so amazing. I'm glad you were able to coach me with my first pregnancy to help me with my second. Congrats! Oh, and I can't believe you didnt tear with a baby that big! lol

The Bangerter's said...

Thanks so much for your posting your birth story, it has inspired me more to know that I made the right choice on having this baby at home. And that I can and will have this baby the way that I want, but that I can also change my plans around if need be. Thanks again Janet. Congrats again. -Shana from the last MNO

Hayley said...

THANK YOU for sharing! I'm so glad you had a good experiance and that you were able to have him after a c-section. Good job Janet. I will be over to see him (and you) soon. LOVE YOU!

The Bennetts said...

What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing! Russ isn't really into reading birth stories but I ended up reading 3/4 of it to him anyway because it was so wonderful.

Danielle and Fam said...

WOW! Way to go Janet. You know that I respect you but I would have gone NUTS with all my kids around. Love ya and I need to come see that baby SOON! Also I can't believe that you named him Chuck. That's just about the best thing I've heard this week!

Traci said...

What a wonderful and educational story. I wish I had the guts to have a home delivery. I worry about everything going wrong. I almost had my daughter at home though (but not on purpose). Traci

Jared & Shannon said...

Wow, Janet. What a story. I got all weepy at the end... and that really isn't me! You are incredible. Congratulations.

Sarah said...

I love the story. :) I want to see some more pictures. What a great birth. I'm so glad it turned out so perfectly.

steph said...

Janet... Wow! You are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing and I'm sooo happy you were able to 'enjoy' this last birth so much! Sending our love!

Natalie said...

Congrats!!! I am sad/happy I have never had to do that!!

Jennifer B said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love you & think you are such an amazing woman!!! It really gives me strength & courage for this little one coming. You are so strong & I hope the nursing is going easier. =) Sending my love!!

Reagan said...

ok, while we are admitting things....I am a faithful j and the bs reader too. except, the only reason I never comment is because I usually read from my blackberry and it's a little annoying to comment on those things.

so, i do want to tell you that when I read this post it moved me to tears. I felt your pain, even though i've never falt THAT pain. I'm so proud that you did the riht thing. A home birth can be a truly incredible thing, but only in specific circumstances. It must have been very difficult for you to not let pride take over when the thought of transferring to a hospital was brought up.

Did you know I had an emergency C-Section too? Mine WAS, however, an emergency and I wasn't even in labor. And it only took 10 minutes. And it saved my childs life. But, yeah.....wouldn't mind NOT doing that again.

Um, sorry I did an entire post in your comments. You're AWESOME!

Adam+Stephanie said...

Amazing! Thank you for sharing your birth story. What a good idea to post it to your blog. I think I might do that too since blogging is the only journaling I do. :) Congrats on your little guy. FYI- my little guy was born on the 8th, at 9lbs too!