Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shoshana's Birth Story

I suppose Shoshana's birth story starts 11 days before she was actually born. I had my weekly appointment with my midwives (at Alma Midwifery- I can't recommend them highly enough!) the day before my "due date" (appt was on 7/2). At that appointment they checked my cervix and I was 50% effaced, dilated 1.5 cm, and she was at zero station. So, things could definitely happen any day... But, they didn't.

I was planning on giving birth at Alma's free standing birth center (a converted turn of the century craftsman) and my midwives would let me have an out of hospital birth up to 43 weeks (as long as baby and I remained healthy, of course). Shosh was happy just camping out in my ute, so I got to hurry up and wait.

39.5 weeks pregnant
During this time my parents were having Judah stay at their house about half the week (the days Bill had to be at work at day) because I was just not ambulatory enough to chase after a very quick and energetic 2 year old. I missed him a ton when he was gone, but felt bad for him when he was home with just me be side I couldn't get down on the floor and play with him and my patience wasn't exactly at it's highest level. Bill did (and always does) a fantastic job of being dad during that last month. He and Judah would go on daily adventure to parks or on hikes in the morning while I stayed home and slept. 

So that was our life those last few weeks.  Oh, and did I mention we had just moved into a new house in June? Boxes were everywhere and I was little to no help when it came to unpacking (fyi, we still have tons of boxes, they have just been moved to places where I don't have to state at them all the time). What a fun time, huh? 

The week passes. Still pregnant. Still waiting. Still answers questions about when I'm going to be induced (umm, never). The next Monday (7/8) I had an ultrasound to check on Shosh. She scored an 8 out of 8 on their criteria (things like movement, heart beat, and what not). The next day I had my 41 week appointment. I was now 60% effaced, 3 cm dilated, and still at zero station. My apprentice midwife  swept my membranes to try and help bring on labor naturally (at Alma you get 3 midwives- the lead midwife who works at Alma, and an assistance & apprentice- who are both completing their clinicals through a local midwifery school, The Birthing Way).

41 weeks
The next day I started having bloody show (worst term ever, I know). But that was it. I was hopeful each morning that today would be the day, but as the hours passed I resigned myself to more waiting. 

On Friday (7/12) I had another ultrasound to check on Shosh again. Yet again, she scored an 8 out of 8. She was healthy and content just chilling. During the ultrasound she was sucking on her arm and hand a lot. It was pretty cute. 

My lead midwife and I decided that I would come in on Saturday so she could sweep my membrane again. She also suggested that I use my breast pump for about an hour beforehand in an effort to bring on contractions. With that in mind, we were all really hopeful that labor would happen on Saturday. Therefor, we made arrangements for Judah to stay at my parents house so we could get a good nights sleep (as the night before we slept like shit because he was up multiple times). We also decided to go out for a nice yummy meal with Bill's youngest sister, Emily, and her boyfriend, Victor (who was flying back home to Australia the next day). 

We had a reservation at Urban Fondue for 9 and gorged ourselves on cheese, meat, and were part way through the chocolate course when Bill told a joke. I laughed. And, whoops, peed a little (or so I thought). I got up and excused myself to head to the bathroom. I was surprised to find that it was not just a little pee (shit like that happens when your pregnant, deal with it), but a lot. Like so much that the crotch of my jeans was all wet. I thought it was odd as I had just gone pee a little bit earlier, and usually if a laugh pee escapes it is minimal at best, and Bill's joke wasn't even that funny, and the weirdest part is it didn't feel like I had accidentally peed when it happened- it just felt like I was all of a sudden wet down there. Any guesses as to what had happened? Anyone? Bueller? Yup, that was my water breaking, but at the time the thought didn't occur to me in the least (it had happened so differently with Judah. It broke when I was in full on labor and was really obvious. And, as soon as my water broke with him it was time to start pushing him out). Anyway, I was embarrassed about peeing so much, but felt lucky that you couldn't see a wet spot  on my jeans. So I returned to dinner and we pretty quickly finished up and headed home. 

We left the restaurant around 11 and got back to our house by 11:20. I wasn't feeling phenomenal but chalked it up to the huge rich meal I had just eaten. At 11:47 pm, I texted as much to my lead midwife, who then called me to talk and advised I take a hot shower, drink a bunch of water, and see if the possible contractions stopped or got more intense. She asked me if I had been leaking any fluids and I promptly told her no (because pee doesn't count and I was still in denial that the leak had been anything but). I followed her advice and continued to down water and took a nice hot shower. Afterwards, the contractions had not gone away and they had gotten to the point where I could whip out the app on my iphone and start timing them. They were lasting around 20 seconds and were anywhere from about 3 to 7 minutes apart. I called my midwife again and let her know what was going on; it was now 12:22 (here's to my call log so I know the precise minute of the call). She wanted to know if I wanted to continue to labor at home or come in to the birthing center. I could still breath/sway through my contractions without much issue, so I decided to keep going at home. She let me know that when I did decide to come in that it would take 30-45 minutes after the call for all the midwives to be at the birth center and ready for me. We were also keeping in mind that this labor could potentially go pretty quickly as Judah's labor was only 8 hours start to finish, and I had been walking around 3 cm dilated all week.

During this time, Bill was buzzing around the house preparing things, just in case we ended up going in. He would come into the bedroom where I was laboring. I would give him another task (get me water, put our bags in the car, get our snacks and drinks together, write out directions for taking care of our dogs for his sister, who would be dog-sitting for us, etc). He would disappear for a while and then eventually end up back in the bedroom looking lost and stressed, where I would give him another task to complete.

My contractions continued to progress. Then, during a contraction a barfed. A HUGE barf (thanks to my huge dinner). That was sign enough for me that it was time to head into the birth center (with Judah I barfed a TON, so I thought that I would pretty much be barfing from here on out. Luckily, it was one and done this time). I called Jamie (lead midwife) at 12:45 and let her know I wanted to come in. At that point my contractions were averaging 40 seconds and anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes apart (so much for 1 minute contractions, 5 minutes apart, for 1 hour- which is the textbook timing of when you are suppose to head in to the hospital or what have you).

We left the house at 1 am. Before we left Bill went downstairs to let Emily and Victor know we were heading off (yep, they were spending the night and had just been downstairs in the guest room chilling while we were upstairs in labor/running around like a chicken with its head cut off, side eye to Bill). I assumed my contractions would slow down in the car ride to the birth center, because that is what had happened with Judah (plus, it is a really common experience). However, this time, they did not slow down. At all. I had at least 4 contractions during the 15 minute car ride. Which was awesome, because car contractions are the BEST. You are stuck in one spot and can't do a damn thing except wait for them to be over. Grumble. Grumble. The whole car ride was even made that much better due to the fact that I had to give Bill direction to the birth center as we drove (he had been there multiple times, but always coming from our rental in North Portland, never from our place which was in the South East).

We arrived at the birth center around 1:20 and Jamie was there to meet us out front. We didn't even bother taking in the bags. I just wanted the essentials: my water bottle, my barf bucket (even though I hadn't used it again, it was safety blanket), and Bill carried in my purse. We went in to our room (the Fern Room) and my midwives had it all set up. The lights were dimmed, they had put candles out, the tub had water in it. I took about one second to register how nice and soothing the whole set up was (so much more welcoming than a hospital!). Then I told them all it was too damn hot. Turn on the fans, the AC, and bring me ice and cool washcloths. I was not messing around. I knew what I wanted! They obliged immediately.

I then took off my clothes (I was hot! And planning to get in the tub). They checked on baby using the doppler. I then went in the restroom to pee/have a contraction. When I came out I told them I wanted them to check my dilation, so I got up on the bed and was at 10cm! So I got in the tub. Had some water and had Bill put more cool washcloths on me. Then I readjusted my position and felt like it was time to push. I would say I pushed her out with 5-10 contractions. It was less than 10 minutes total of pushing! She immediately went to my chest and after a little bit I had to get out of the tub so they could check my bleeding. That was definitely a bit awkward as I had not yet delivered the placenta, which means her umbilical cord was still attached to her and to the inside of me. We had to be careful not to put any strain on it as I got out, assisted by all three midwives. I definitely needed the help as the tub was giant and kinda of tricky to get out of normally, let alone when you have just delivered a baby, that you are holding, that is still attached to your ute. Awkward!

We moved to the bed where they checked me out. No tears! Yay! And I delivered the afterbirth. We let the umbilical cord pulse out and then Bill cut it. Shoshana was born at 1:41 am, early Saturday morning (though it certainly felt like Friday night to us!) on July, 13, 2013.

Since we didn't bring our bags up, that means my cameras were all still in the trunk of the car for her birth. I took these with my iphone while they were examining Shosh shortly after she was born. The lights were still dimmed and the candles lit, which is why these are so underexposed. 
That means, we were only at the birth center for 20 minutes before she was born! And the total time from when I first started having contractions to birth was only about 2 and a half hours. We thought my labor/delivery would be quick but we were not anticipating it to be that quick! To put that into perspective, that is less time than it takes to watch any of the Lord of the Rings movies.

I was happy with how it all turned out. Of course, the most important part was that it ended with a healthy baby girl and healthy mama. But, more than that, I got to have the birth I had hoped to have with Judah (his birth story is here). This time around we knew that my body's reaction to being pregnant/labor was high blood pressure, so I took herbal tinctures for almost my whole pregnancy to combat it, as well as, took liquid calcium magnesium, and epsom salt baths, and various other little tricks here and there to help keep it down. I also knew there were things I did not want to do this time around. With Judah, I labored a ton on the toilet, and barfed a ton, and screamed "IT HURTS" so often/loud during pushing (even though it was only 20 minutes) that my throat was sore for days afterwards, and had an episiotomy/tore (I massaged my perineum with evening primrose for few weeks before she was born to help prevent tearing). I hoped not to repeat those things... so I didn't! I definitely labored a bit on the toilet (especially early on when I thought I might just be having a food baby), and, as mentioned earlier, only barfed the one time, and when it came to pushing I was way more zen about it. I think the biggest factor was just that it wasn't my first time and I knew what to expect. It also helped that instead of focusing on the pain and screaming, I envisioned Shosh traveling down the birth canal with each push. And when she hit the ring of fire, I knew what was happening and knew that meant she was so very close to being born.

We stayed at the birth center until Monday and it was so nice! It was seriously like a bed & breakfast, with a bonus birth thrown in. There was always a postpartum doula in the house to look after us (and check vitals every so often). They switched shifts every 8 hours. They made us food, plus we got take-out for one meal a day. They had a big book of take out menus that we got to choose from, then the doulas took our orders and went and got the food. Far superior to hospital cafeteria food! They were also there to help us with whatever we needed, but we were pretty low maintenance, since this was baby number 2 we knew how to handle the regular newborn needs. However, the first night right after she was born and we went to sleep, she ended up having a big old meconium poo all over our sheets, blankets, and us. We had the doulas come in and they changed the sheets and cleaned her off. We were both super tired and could only manage cleaning ourselves at that point.

The big ass tub in which Shosh was born.

Isn't the Fern room cute? It was our favorite of all the rooms, which were all cute in their own way.
My parents brought Judah in that same day in the afternoon. I was very happy that he got to meet his sister on the day she was born. He was adorable and very excited about her. We had to be careful to make sure he was gentle enough (he is much better now and no longer needs constant reminders to give her GENTLE touches). I was kind of surprised he knew right away that the baby in my arms was Shoshana, after all, it is a pretty abstract concept to a 2 year old going from having Shoshana in mama's belly to being a baby out in the world. But, he got it with no problem. He no longer thought there was any baby in my belly (or his, because he was sure we were both carrying her throughout my pregnancy). He also thought her umbilical stump was her penis (hilarious!) and wanted to know where her belly button was. We tried to explain it to him, but for the first couple of days he was so sure that it was her penis.

Emily also came by and met Shosh that first day (after she dropped Victor off at the airport). The next day my friend, Joy, came in the morning and later in the day Emily came back along with Alice, another of Bill's sisters.
Emily and Shosh
3 out of 4 of the Monroe siblings
Our little lady and her daddy
On Monday before we checked out I got an hour long massage. That's right. A massage. For an hour. Right there at the birth center. It was a very nice way to end our already relaxing stay.

Shosh is listed on the first line of the last section.


  1. Thanks for sharing the story. When she was ready, she didn't fool around. Wonderful memories of a beautiful birth.

  2. What a great story. And what a great way to give birth. Thank you for sharing the experience here.