by Erin C.

Mother of Trinity (07/21/01) and Lily (11/08/02)

On July 21, 2001, I gave birth to my first child, Trinity Morrigan. She was stillborn at 33 weeks, due to an apparent cord accident related to low amniotic fluid. I had planned a natural birth in a birth center in Dallas, but ended up experiencing a hospital delivery. I was induced with Cervadil and Pitocin. I also had an epidural. It was a very tough experience, made even worse by the fact that I was in an unfamiliar environment – a hospital. To make the situation worse, my care providers that I had chosen during that pregnancy completely abandoned me. I was terrified and my husband and I had to face the situation alone.

Ginger12aWhen we began trying to conceive again, I knew that I wanted a homebirth. I wanted to find a midwife who would support me throughout my entire pregnancy and who would be sensitive to the circumstances surrounding my last birth. Ginger was the second midwife I interviewed and we hit it off immediately. I knew that she would be the best choice for us. I made my decision in October. I didn’t find out that I was pregnant until March. Ginger was one of the first people I called as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test!

My pregnancy was very smooth. Ginger made sure that she spent ample time at all of my prenatal visits. She really helped me work through a lot of the fears I had in relation to the birth of my first baby. Most of all, I knew that Ginger was someone I could trust and someone that I could depend on. She was very loving and caring throughout my entire pregnancy. I knew that she would stick with me no matter what happened. I don’t think that I could have made it without her.

Friday, November 8, 2002 (5 days after my due date), I woke up with contractions. I had been having contractions for the last month, so I didn’t take them too seriously at first. Ginger had been over the night before to check me out because I had been hurting pretty bad. As of Thursday night, the baby was lower and my cervix had thinned out a little more. I hung around and told Kirk (my husband) that he might ought to stay home just in case.

The contractions were getting a little worse, but were still not regular. They were anywhere between 3 and 6 minutes apart. I called Ginger just to let her know and she said to call her back when they got regular. She said that it would probably be okay for Kirk to go see one of his clients on the other side of town. Kirk got ready to leave and we called my mom to come over and stay with me. The contractions started picking up a bit, but they still weren’t getting regular.

Since the contractions were getting stronger, I called Kirk and told him that he should probably head back home soon. I decided that this was probably the real thing. Kirk got home and I decided to get in the tub. He called Ginger and asked her to come over. While I was sitting in the tub, Kirk and I were making our predictions as to how much I would be dilated. I was being pessimistic and said I was probably still only 4. Kirk guessed 6.

Ginger showed up thinking she was coming just to check me. She didn’t bring any of her stuff in because she thought she would be able to go back home for awhile. She checked me and I was at 5. She decided to stay. My sister and her fiance’ came over and I labored away for awhile. I got back in the tub and started hurting pretty bad. When I got out, Ginger checked me again and I was at 6. She went ahead and called the assisting midwife, Bonnie, and told her to come on over when she got ready. I decided to go ahead and call my friend Amy (an apprentice midwife) and tell her to come on over whenever she could since she lives so far away.

I labored and labored some more and could tell that the baby had moved down more. Ginger checked me and I was at 8. While she was checking me, my water broke. I wandered around for awhile and finally got a bunch of pillows and labored on the floor in between my kitchen and dining room. While I was down there, Amy and my dad showed up. I was having to really concentrate to get through the contractions and was starting to be in a lot of pain. Amy helped out a lot by holding the rice sock on my back and rubbing my back. She was great and I was so glad to have her there.

I got up and went in to the bathroom and sat on the toilet so I could go pee. I peed and sat there for a few contractions and then felt something fall out of me. I called Ginger into the bathroom and we saw that there was a lot of meconium. I started getting really scared at that point. I was very worried, since I had always heard that meconium was a bad sign. (Too much Baby Story and Birth Day on the Discovery Channel!) I was so afraid that I would lose another baby.

They calmed me down and got me off the toilet and onto the bed so they could see what was going on. Laying on the bed was so painful! It hurt so bad to be on my back. They listened to the baby’s heart tones and everything still sounded good. Ginger checked me and I was at 9 with a little bit of cervix left. I was still really upset by the meconium and apparently that affected my progress. While Ginger was checking me, she felt my cervix close back to a 5. It’s called emotional dystocia. When you have an intense emotional response such as fear, it can cause your labor to stall.

(This was around 8:00.) The contractions were still coming hard and fast, but I had pretty much closed back up. They decided to get me into a knee-chest position and see if they could work some Evening Primrose Oil onto my cervix. I had never been in so much pain in my life and I felt like I had no control over what was going on with my body (Hello, transition!). My body wanted to push, but I couldn’t because my cervix wasn’t ready. It was very difficult. At some point I changed positions and it made me throw up. I got onto my side and Ginger and Bonnie helped me to calm down. They helped me relax and control my breathing so I wouldn’t push. They talked to me about my fears surrounding my first birth and reassured me that they weren’t going to leave me.

Eventually, it got to the point that my body was just pushing anyway, so they let me go with it. I never knew the urge to push would be so strong! Every single muscle in my body felt like it was working to get the baby out. I was on my side and Amy and Bonnie helped me hold my leg back. There was still a tiny bit of cervix left, so Ginger held it back for me. Actually, I didn’t even notice that part. I just started pushing with everything I had. It didn’t seem like it took long at all before they said that I could touch her head. I felt it, but it didn’t really feel like a head. They even held up a mirror so I could see, but it didn’t look like a head.

I kept pushing, and felt some burning. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I vaguely remember Amy saying something about the ring of fire. I thought it would hurt all the way around, but it seemed to only hurt up at the top by my clitoris. I remember thinking that it would really hurt bad later when I would have to pee (Surprisingly enough, it didn’t!). The burning got pretty bad and then the next thing I knew, I heard them suctioning out the baby. Her head was finally out! I heard someone, I think it was Ginger, say that her cord was around her neck. They told me not to push for a minute.

Then I was pushing again and it felt like she flew out of me. I’m sure she just slipped out, but it felt like I shot her out. Lily Brighid Connaway was born at 9:00 p.m. She was out, but she didn’t breathe and she didn’t cry right away. She was floppy and not pink, but her heart was beating just fine. They left the cord intact and suctioned a lot of meconium out of her stomach.

They were trying to get her to wake up and cry. Ginger told me to talk to her. I started talking to the baby and Ginger said that she immediately started pinking up. She finally let out a little cry and she sounded like a little kitten. I was never worried at all once she was out because I knew that since she was still attached to me, she was still getting blood through her cord. Kirk said that he was a little concerned that she took so long to take her first breath, but it didn’t bother me. I knew that she was ok.

They handed her to me while she was still attached. I remember her back being all sticky and cheesy. I couldn’t believe that I finally had my baby. The rest was really a blur. I pushed out my placenta not long at all after she was born. Kirk cut her cord. I held her and tried to nurse her, but she wasn’t ready to latch on yet. I felt great after she was out.

Her one minute APGAR was a little low (6). She was totally fine once she got going, though. We thought she’d be bigger and were surprised that she was only 7lb 1oz and 19 inches long. We took an herb bath together and I got a chance to wash some of the blood and meconium off of me. Ginger told me that this was one of the messiest births she had ever attended. Looking back at my pictures from after the birth, you can see smears of meconium on my arm!

I did not have any tears at all. I felt wonderful after her birth, although I was a little tired! Lily is perfect and healthy. I healed very well and didn’t bleed much after the birth. I was a little surprised at the intensity of the afterpains, but Tylenol was a tremendous help. After the birth, we relaxed and spent time with our family. My parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my grandparents, the midwives, and Kirk and I all had a champagne toast with a special bottle of champagne we bought just for the occasion.

Lily was absolutely beautiful. She had my eyes and nose and Kirk’s mouth and hands. She had long monkey toes like me and red hair. I could not believe how much she looked like me. I can’t believe how much I love her and I never thought it would be possible to love Kirk more than I already did. It’s sad though, because I am finally seeing exactly what I missed out on with Trinity.

I am so glad that we were able to have a homebirth. It is the best decision we have ever made. I cannot imagine birth any other way. I could not have done it without the loving support of Ginger and the rest of her team. I am very proud of myself for being able to do this. I had no idea what my body could do. I made and grew and birthed a perfect, live baby! Lily’s birth was an incredibly empowering and healing experience for me.