(Ed. note: Krista Beck-Gallagher is a "web-buddy" of mine who I met a few months ago quite by chance on the Web. She is quite radical about non-intervention in childbirth which may explain why I like her so much. Take a look at Krista's website. Krista graciously agreed to let me post the story of her son's (Eric) birth which was not at home, but at "a gentle, natural (but hospital CNM)"; Krista says her next child will definitely be born at home.)

Krista's Story

My labor began on the 17th--I had a trickle of fluid and light contractions. I went to the midwife to be checked (to see if the baby was coming that day anyway) and I was two centimeters and about 50 percent effaced. She told me she thought it would be in the next day or so, and to sort out my feelings about what was holding back my labor. I thought of lots of things: anger about my birth with Sarah; guilt about having another baby when she is still so much a baby; anger at my husband for not being supportive in my last birth; being too focused on getting pregnant without considering what another baby would mean to our family--but it never happened. My water sealed itself back up after about two days and we went on our merry way.

On the 22nd, my sister called and asked how I was doing and if anything had happened yet. I said no and told her what the midwife had suggested about getting my feelings out and she said, "Oh, like you didn't mourn enough after the miscarriage?" And I thought, wow, I never even thought of that. So I prayed and cried that night and asked the baby to forgive me for not mourning him enough and my contractions started the morning of the 23rd. I kept waking up every 15 minutes or so and thinking--I think I just had a contraction. I got up about 4:30am to pee and *plop*--there went my mucous plug. I woke dh up all excited and told him I lost it and he just said "So?" and rolled over and went back to sleep. I started timing my contractions and they were a good 14 minutes apart, so I went back to sleep too--even though I kept waking up after each one.

That morning, dh and Sarah went Christmas shopping and I got this *huge* burst of energy. I cleaned the house from top to bottom in about two hours and then was totally exhausted. I thought it was probably a nesting urge, but I wasn't sure since I never had that with Sarah. Dh came home and I went out shopping for about a half hour and had some pretty good contractions (its a lucky thing we only live about a mile from the mall). I came home and told him that he better not go to work that day, but he wasn't convinced and told me to call him if I needed him. My contractions were about seven or eight minutes apart but were really light and I wasn't having any trouble with them at all. That afternoon after dh had left for work, I went to my next door neighbor's house (who I had invited to the birth) and asked her if she would mind watching Sarah for an hour or so while I took a nap. She was so wonderful and offered to take her for longer than that--but I came and got her after that. My dh called on his break around 5:30pm and asked how I was doing--I told him I'd call him when I needed him. The contractions were still about 7 minutes apart, but I was starting to have more trouble with them. Sarah usually goes to bed around 8:00 or so, and she was starting to get whiny which was totally grating on my nerves, so at 7:30, I called him to come home.

Dh got home, put Sarah to bed and called his mom, who was supposed to be Sarah's support person. She didn't believe I was in labor and told us that she couldn't come because she had to work the next day--which totally p*ssed me off because she was supposed to have made back up plans because she told us *not* to make any. So I had to call my neighbor and ask her if she would mind being Sarah's support person instead of my extra support and she was totally great and agreed to do it.

I sent dh to bed at 11:00pm because things still weren't moving along any faster. I took two doses of blue cohosh (8 drops in a little bit of warm water) at 11:00 and 11:30 and things started to pick up. I wrote a message to the list at midnight--but didn't really expect to have the baby for another day or so. I went to bed right after that at midnight. I got up at 1:30am because the contractions became way more intense when I was laying down and I got in the shower. I remembered how I was denied water in my last birth (even though I didn't expect to be for this one) and at least wanted a shower before going to the hospital. After my shower, I filled up the tub and sat there for about an hour. It slowed my contractions down, but it felt wonderful. Dh got up when I got out about 3:00am and things started picking up. My contractions got to about five minutes around 4:30 and I called the midwife. I'd been afraid to call up to that point because I was afraid if it was the one midwife on call that night that I didn't like, my labor would stall out. Lucky for me, it was my favorite of the five!! She told me to come in whenever I felt ready to and asked me if I was feeling safe with the hospital. I told her that I thought so and that we would call before we came. We called my neighbor to come over and got things ready and got Sarah up and dressed and then called her back.

We got to the hospital around 5:30am and the midwife wasn't there yet. My contractions had gotten way closer together on the ride down and the nurse told me to go into the bathroom and give a urine sample and change into a hospital gown. I told her I brought my own gown, and she rolled her eyes and said fine. I got a little freaked out because she had the efm and toco set up on the bed along with gloves and K-Y to check me when I got out--things that were against my birth plan. I just kept thinking, "Great. I'm going to have to fight already." I had to really strong contractions on the toilet and when I came out, Catherine (the midwife) was there. She had me sit in a chair, and hooked up the efm only (we had to submit to 20 minutes upon admission because of hospital policy (it was in the birth plan) but that was it) and the nurse started doing the admit. Every contraction, I stood up and leaned against my dh and rocked and swayed--and then I started having back labor. The baby's heart trace was a bit flat, so Catherine gave me some juice and he perked up almost immedieately. I starting to be in some pain because of the back labor, and asked if I could get in the tub. Catherine ran the bath for me (this was about 6:15 by now) and as soon as I got in, she told me that she was going off call at 7:00 and that another of the midwives would be coming to take over since she had already attended four births *that day*! (My clinic usually has 3-4 births in a *week*!) I asked who--and it was a new midwife that we had never seen--great. The tub felt great and I didn't want to get out, but I finally did around 7:30 and Catherine and the new midwife were there. My contractions were about 2.5 minutes apart or so and I was having tons of back pain. Catherine took Renatta (the new midwife) out to go over our birth plan with her and they didn't get back until about 8:15 or so. I still hadn't been checked at that point, but was in enough discomfort to want to know how far I'd come--so Catherine had Renatta check me and I was only 3 cms!! I started crying; I didn't think I'd be able to make it through with the back labor. Renatta broke down the bed and had me kneeling on the bottom part over the top part and doing pelvic rocking to try to turn the baby. I kept going from there to the hot pack in the rocking chair to standing back to the bed until about 10:00. This was the worst two hours of all; I was moaning and groaning and whining though almost every contraction. Dh was getting pretty freaked out and I started asking for drugs. In my mind I was thinking, "I know this means I'm getting near transition. I *can* do this. I *am* doing this." But my mouth was saying, "Please!! Anything!! Make it stop!! I want to go home!!" Its amazing how your mind knows exactly what its doing, but it can't necessarily make your body feel the same way. :-)

At ten, I asked to be checked--I was still moaning for drugs, and the midwife only offered once. She said, "If you really, really want it, I can give you something in an IV." And I screamed, "NO!! NO IVs!! NO IVs!!" And that was that. But with the next contraction, I started asking again... :-) So she checked me and I was at eight!! My mind was cheering! And my mouth was saying, "I can't do this anymore!" So I asked to get back in the tub to get back on top of things and it really, really helped. I was relaxing so much in between contractions that I was falling asleep. At 11 my water finally broke--and the midwife grabbed my arm to pull me out of the tub, and I started yelling, "I can't! I can't! I can't!" and she let me go through to more contractions until I could finally get up myself. I got back on my hands and knees and she checked me again at 11:15--still at eight--and right after that I felt this tremendous urge to PUSH! It was the most overwhelming urge I have ever felt in my life. I started saying, "Only eight, have to push, only eight, have to blow," over and over and the midwife told me to go ahead and give a couple pushes if that was what my body was telling me to do. So I did and she checked me after that contractions--I was complete. She told me to do whatever my body said to do. All of a sudden, hands and knees became unbearable; I had to move. This was about 11:30 and the nurse went out to ask for the squat bar. The midwife told me to try side lying until it came and she and dh held my left leg up in a squat on my side and I suddenly got pushing right--it felt totally different and I didn't want to move for fear I wouldn't be able to do it. It seems like it went so fast after that--the midwife said, "Yes! Just like that! Whatever you did different there, keep doing it!" The nurse finally came back with the squat bar, but I didn't want it. I was doing great pushing on my side in a kind of "squat without gravity" position. The nurse then started trying to find the heartbeat with the doppler, and couldn't so she pulled out the ifm lead--and thank God for my dh, he realized what it was and said, "NO! We don't want that!" and the nurse was being totally condescending and saying, "But we can't find the baby's heartbeat," and he told her to try again--which she did and they did find it. Then the idiot nurse started telling me to hold my breath while I pushed--and I kept saying, "Shut up! I am not holding my breath! Shut your damn mouth!" and the midwife was trying not to laugh and told me to do whatever my body told me to do, push however I wanted and however was working for me. The head started to crown and she said it was stretching me just perfectly; she was doing perineal massage and trying to stretch my old episiotomy site. I felt the baby's head and it was the most wonderful thing I have ever felt in my entire life. As he was crowning, I felt the "ring of fire" and was actually saying it while I was pushing--"Ring--pant--pant--of--pant--pant--fire--pant--pant." It burned so bad!

The midwife kept saying how beautifully the head was crowning up, but then she told me she wanted to cut an episiotomy because she was afraid that the old one was going to open again--and I was begging her not to--then begging for "just a really, really, really small one if you *have* to do it--and then the head was out and I hadn't torn at all. I was having really long waits in between contractions--about three minutes or so--and she told me to push as hard as I could with the next contraction, and when it came I pushed with all my might, with every bit of energy I had left in my body and the nurse started screaming at me to PUSH! PUSH! PUSH! and I was saying I AM! I AM! and I was still pushing after the contraction was over--and then the midwife called a code; the baby was turning blue and his shoulder was totally stuck under my pubic bone and she flipped me over so fast I didn't even know what happened and reached in and delivered the bottom shoulder first. Then it was over and they flipped me back over and where there had been only three other people in the room--the midwife, the idiot nurse, and my dh--there were now about 20, including two doctors and just about the entire NICU staff. The baby still hadn't cried and I started panicking. The midwife ordered a shot of pitocin in my hip--I started to hemmorhage--and finally the baby started crying and my bleeding slowed.

I still didn't know what was happening, and the midwife said, "Krista, I'm so sorry you didn't get to hold him right after he was born. They have to recessutate him now." And I said, "He? It's a boy?" and she said, "It's a boy!" and my dh and I started crying and saying, "It's a boy! It's a boy!" we just couldn't believe it, we had been expecting it would be a girl...

My birth plan was followed to a tee until after the birth. Eric was 10 pounds 6 ounces so they had to follow the "protocol" for "macrosomic" (he is *not* macrosomic--he is just a big boned baby like his daddy) babies and started sticking him and told me they were giving him a bottle of sugar water. I told them bs--no bottles--NONE--and the NICU nurse started lecturing me (while I'm laying there being stiched up--my old episiotomy tore open when the midwife had to reach in for the shoulder) and I said, "Fine. I understand. But NO BOTTLES." The midwife looked at the NICU nurse and said, "Krista, your baby probably does need the sugar water (whatever), but they *CAN* tube feed it to him." And I said fine, then tube feed him. The nurse rolled her eyes at me and sighed, shook her head and marched out to get the gavage kit.

His blood sugars were fine after that, but we did have some problems with them constantly coming in wanting to take hime to the nursery, and I insisted they do all of their ridiculous tests while I was nursing him, which they did. They also asked me *six* times if I wanted to have him circumcised--and the doctor on call actually tried to convince us to do it! He kept saying how much easier it would be on him and all of this total garbage not to mention how he discouraged me from breastfeeding since I'd have to give up every single food I like! I can't believe the pedi we chose (even though we won't be seeing him either--he *is* a total proponent of bfing and totally anti- circ) would have this idiot cover call for him.

We're getting great at doing the football hold. Eric has a really tiny mouth and has trouble latching onto enough of the breast and he was totally refusing my right side until yesterday. My sweet, kind, lactation consultant friend invited me to come to her house so she could help us--and now bfing is going fantastic!

I still can't believe its all over. Now that I've done it both ways--drugged and natural--I know for a fact that I would never have drugs during a birth again. I really believe that if women were taught the incredible power of their bodies we wouldn't have a struggle for equality in the world--women would dominate! :-)

I can't wait to do it all again in a few years! Really!! :-D

Sarah (12/2/95) and Eric (12/24/97)


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