My name is Heather Brownlee, and here is my birth story.
Natalie Kay was born on May 18, 2009. We live in Tonasket, WA.
I thought I'd start by sharing the story of Natalie's arrival.
We decided pretty early on that we wanted a home birth. There are several reasons, but to sum it up: we didn't want any unnecessary interventions and I wanted to be comfortable and in control. I'm not a big fan of doctors and modern medicine, except when needed. Around Christmas, I found my midwife, Laurel, after asking around. I appreciated all of the knowledge she shared at each appointment and her gentle nature. Towards the end of the pregnancy, my blood pressure started creeping up and my feet and legs started to swell. I had to be on modified bed rest starting at 37 weeks. It was time for me to focus on the baby.
I had a few "false starts" and even though I enjoyed pregnancy, by 40 weeks I was ready to meet the baby (who wasn't?). At my appointment, Laurel stripped my membranes and gave me a tincture and some other ideas to try to get things going (after giving her fair warning, of course). We waited until the next day to try the tincture. Oh, let me not forget, Lucas must have known something was going to happen because before we had even discussed trying to get labor started, he insisted on sleeping until noon. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8 am. So at 12:30 I started the tincture, which gave me some stronger contractions, but nothing significant. Later that afternoon, my vision was messed up, and I couldn't think straight. My blood pressure had jumped up. Laurel said to get in the tub with epsom salts and relax. She also warned us that if we got another high reading, I'd be diagnosed with preeclampsia. Not good!
Luckily, my BP went down and we just hung out and watched some movies. Around 9 that evening the contractions started getting strong and were about 5 minutes apart, so after about an hour we called Laurel and let her know. She told me to call in a few hours and update her on the progress, and not to call if I was able to go to sleep. I had to tell Lucas to call her back after only about an hour, as the contractions were only two minutes apart, and some where back to back. She told Lucas to get me in the tub and she'd be here shortly.
And so it began. When Laurel got here, I was in the tub, enjoying how it was helping with the pain. She observed me for a while, timed my contractions and decided after a litte bit that she'd call her assistant. I was already becoming so focused on my labor that I wasn't very talkative or aware of anything or anyone around me. The contractions were back to back with a little break (about two minutes) in between each one. Lucas tried turning on some music (I thought it would help-I love listening to music) but that didn't last long. I also had the illusion that I would be nice and quiet during labor, after watching birthing videos, some women were so vocal, I just didn't think I would be. That thought flew out the window too. As time went by, I quit being quiet. I remember one thing I said was "Owww!" and Laurel said, "Just add a T to that." After I thought about it, and thinking "yeah, that makes sense," I started saying "OUT" instead. The hours went by, I was unaware of times, but I know I remember certain things. One is that I absolutely hated laying on the bed. I loved the water, it helped so much with the back pain. Lucas wasn't allowed out of my sight (okay, maybe twice). I leaned on him, listened to his instructions, had him hold my barf pail, held his hand, and I even beat him up a little (he didn't deserve it at the time). I remember throwing up several times, which bummed me out because I couldn't hold any fluids down and was getting dehydrated. I remember Lucas telling me when the sun was starting to come up, and we all listened to the birds as they started singing. I know Laurel checked me at one point and I was at 5 cm. I think it was around 3 or 4 in the morning. Progress! Every time she checked my blood pressure we were amazed it was staying at a good level, and the baby was doing great. More contractions, more breathing, and I know at some point I called myself a wimp, and Laurel and Lainy (her assistant) totally disagreed with me. They both were so great at encouraging me and I know everyone took turns putting pressure on my back and hips to relieve the back labor. Lainy gave me sips of water through a straw as well as spoonfuls of honey for energy. I remember after Laurel checked me again, after hours had passed, I think it was afternoon, I was at 9 cm. I worked through more contractions and took "naps" in between contractions - two minutes at a time. At some point after that, I was back in the tub, and I couldn't help but cry. Yes, I cried, and it felt good. I also said "I can't," which is a phrase I don't allow myself to say otherwise. I started to feel pressure, and I didn't like the way it felt. This is when I ended up beating on Lucas, and I know I was not nice. In reading all those birth stories, I was lead to believe this would be a great feeling, but it wasn't. Laurel wanted to check me again, and it took a while for them to get me to move. After Laurel made it possible for me to push, I gave it a try in the squatting position. I was horrible at pushing. I made several attempts, and even when Laurel told me I was doing it right, I wasn't able to do it long enough. I was so tired and hot and thirsty. Thank goodness Laurel had instructed Lainy to make me some concentrated lemonade out of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt, and sugar. I wasn't even able to recognize how close we were getting to having the baby. I must have said something like "I give up" because I remember Laurel saying "okay, Lainy and I will pack up and go home," and it helped me realize this was it. The point of no return and the end of the road. I realized I could see light at the end of the tunnel. She gave me oxygen because I was getting a little light-headed at the end of pushing, and this was partially why I wasn't holding it long enough. Once I started really pushing, I could feel my body take over and I got back in the tub on my hands and knees. It wasn't very long before she told me to reach down and feel the head. Wow, it's there! I was still in some other place, focused on this task, but it was only a matter of minutes and her head was born. I thought her body would slide out after that, but apparently her shoulders were wider, so Laurel had to work her out. And then she was here! It was 2:38 p.m.
I turned around and Lucas was holding her. He looked to see if she was a boy or girl, then I got to hold her. I could feel myself starting to "wake up." We moved to the bedroom and Natalie started nursing. Still, the placenta wouldn't come out. After a while, Laurel told me we needed to focus on getting it out. She had a serious tone in her voice. I handed Natalie to Lainy and I got out of bed. In a matter of moments I was dizzy. It's all a blur, but I remember Laurel saying "you're not going to like this, but we have to go to the hospital." She called the ambulance. Apparently some numb-skull answered. After Laurel went back and forth with them for a minute, she said, "Nevermind, we're just going to drive." Fine with me, we're only a few blocks away. She gave me a shot of pitocin and Lucas swept me up in his arms. He carried me down the stairs and into the car. I talked to him the whole way, not sure what I said, but I was in the back seat and we wanted to make sure I was awake. We got to the hospital and they put me on a stretcher. They stuck IV's in me and gave me more pitocin. I had to be flat on my back and the pitocin made the contractions come back. My back labor was as bad as it was during labor, but I couldn't do anything to relieve it. I wasn't very happy, because I felt like I had gone back to transition, when I was tired, thirsty, and in a bunch of pain. I looked up at those cold ER lights, cried, screamed and said "I thought I was done with this!" and "why can't it be over!" Looking around, there was a flurry of people. Two doctors, several nurses, Lucas, and others. Lucas had a terrified look on his face. I could hear the baby crying in the hall. Dr. Wilson told me he was going to try to pull the placenta out and if he couldn't get it, I'd have to go in for surgery. My mom showed up. With her on one side and Lucas on the other, they worked on me and were able to get the placenta out. The pain started to go away. I realized then that I was sitting in a pool of blood (Dr. Jaffri says I lost half my blood). They started cleaning up and they weighed and measured Natalie. She was 8 pounds 10 ounces, 21 inches long. Her head was 34 inches around and her shoulders 36. We got moved upstairs and spent the night in the hospital. We enjoyed showing our new bundle of joy to all our visitors.
We are both very happy we had a home birth, even though it didn't all turn out as planned. We are so blessed!