Sunday, August 28, 2011

Greta's Birth Story

Women's bodies have near-perfect knowledge of childbirth; it's when their brains get involved that things can go wrong. 
- Peggy Vincent

My "due date" with Greta was August 17th. (Wednesday) On Tuesday, we went to town to do our shopping, and when I went the bathroom at the grocery store, I was excited to find bloody show!

I had some good crampy contractions that evening, and we called Michelle, our midwife to let her know stuff was happening. She was planning home visits in Jackson Hole the next morning, so she told us to let her know first thing in the morning what my uterus was up to. 

That night I started having steady contractions at around 2 a.m. They woke me up, but I was able to sleep through them, and so I did. No sense getting over excited, I like sleeping, dang-it! 

The next morning we called Michelle and gave her an update. She decided to cancel her trip out of state, and gave Jeremy instructions about when to call her again. (I have no idea what they were. Not my department.)

We went for a drive; took back some library books and got the mail. I had been having contractions every time I got the in the car for several days, and that morning the car did not disappoint! 

When we got home, I decided to bake some rolls. So I did. Jeremy made chicken salad so we'd have something to feed our birth team, and at about 11:00, Jeremy called Michelle and told her whatever she said needed to happen was happening. I was upset at this point. I went over with both of my other pregnancies - significantly post-dates with my daughter, and I was so mentally prepared to go over with this baby, that the idea of giving birth on my due date was kind of unsettling. I'm pretty sure my nickname is Amber "due-dates-ain't-nothing-but-a-number" Heer!

Our "birth team" consisted of Michelle, our midwife, Krista, her 3rd year apprentice and Joyce, her 1st year apprentice. We also had my friends Jan and Christa and my sister Rhienne for kitchen and child back-up... if that's a thing.

Jan, Michelle and I
Everyone showed up around noon. I was really nervous about Iris... I thought she'd be really clingy and need mom a lot, but she was so great! She took a good nap, then played, or hung out with the grown-ups in the kitchen.

Iris helping Krista fill the pool
She was very "helpful" during my contractions. She would rub my back, or hug me, or lay on the floor under me... Odd child...

Hanging out with Momma during a contraction

Eli played outside most of the day with his friends. Every few hours, he'd come inside and ask if the baby had come out yet. He was so excited to meet his new sister!

At some point, my water broke. I have no idea when. Time is weird in labor, isn't it?! I didn't really believe I was in labor until that point, but then I was sure. This labor was much much different than my last two. I had sputter-y contractions the whole time. I'd have contractions every 5 minutes, then every ten minutes, then have a break for half an hour, then have them every 3 minutes. My midwives were very encouraging, since the contractions were over a minute long, but I was frustrated, because I knew I wasn't working hard enough. I'd done this twice before, and I remembered how things were supposed to feel, and I knew I was not close. The midwives had declared me to be in active labor by that point, but I was waiting and waiting for the extreme contractions I associate with that, and they just weren't happening. Very discouraging. 

At some point I announced that I was bored, and wanted to do something different. Krista (midwife) suggested I go for a walk. So Christa (friend) and Jeremy took me for a walk. We walked around our neighborhood, and almost got chased by a bad dog. I'm glad it didn't chase us, because I was really not in the mood for that... 

When we got back to the house, Christa and Jan made chili for dinner. I didn't feel like eating, but I did so Iris would think I was stealing her food... sneaky way to get Iris to eat... 

I spent the whole day on my feet. When I would sit, my contractions would space out and lose intensity, so I paced to keep them stronger. It was very frustrating, but I stayed fed and hydrated and didn't feel like I was working too hard, so I had a lot of energy. I had decided a long time ago that I wanted to labor out of the pool and only get in to actually give birth. Sometime that evening (it was pretty late - Iris had gone to bed) I decided I wanted to go ahead and get in the pool. So I did. It was very very relaxing, and slowed my contractions down a lot. That was very discouraging. I decided to feel for the baby's head, just to see if I could feel anything, and I could feel her. I could actually feel the pulse in her head, which was cool, but I felt no urge to push, and I knew I had not gone through transition, so I was like, "interesting, but so what?"... 

I got out of the tub shortly afterwards, and asked Krista to go ahead and check dilation. (My midwives do not routinely do vaginal exams. I didn't get checked with Iris until after she was born to check for a tear.) I laid down for the VE, and had a HUGE gush of amniotic fluid; I think her head shifted when I changed positions. Krista checked me, I was dilated 6 cm and not fully effaced. At this point it was 12:30 a.m. I'd been in labor over 12 hours (almost 24! if you count every single contraction I'd had- which I don't) My first thought was "what the heck have I been doing all day?!" But I actually felt better knowing I was only that far, since I'd felt that I wasn't working as hard as I was supposed to. Shortly after I sat up, I started having the contractions I'd been waiting for and preparing myself for all day. It was such a relief! That sounds weird - to be relieved that I was finally feeling intense pain, but I was so happy about it! 

Krista suggested I lie down for a while and get some rest. I knew I wouldn't be able to lie down during contractions, but I could get a little rest between them. A very little. Jeremy and I lay down, and during contractions, I'd hop up and lean over my foot board and just rock and rock while Jeremy rubbed my lower back - something I'd never ever wanted done EVER - not just in labor, I HATE having my lower back touched! After only 4 or 5 contractions, I wanted to go to the bathroom, so I sat on the the toilet through a contraction, and then jumped up and started pacing through another one. I recognized this - I KNEW I was in transition, and I was thrilled! (While wincing, of course.)

After the contraction, I sat back down, and suddenly PUSHED! I jumped up and waddled back to the living room and the birthing pool, and hopped in. Michelle and Jeremy decided to add a little more hot water to the tub, and  Joyce dumped in the ginger tea they make for the water, and they barely made it in time. I was sitting on my bottom in the tub, and suddenly felt the urge to push. I was so happy! I yelled "YES!" and then kind of got up and squatted. My previous births have had a very short pushing stage, but nothing like this one. I kept pushing through the contraction, and at the end of that contractions, Greta was here. My vocalizing went kind of like this: "Roaaarrrrr! I feel her head! Rooooaaaarr!! Her head, her head is out! Roaaaaaaarrrr! It's a girl!" One contraction. It was awesome. 

I was so incredibly happy that she was finally born, I think I cried, not sure. But I was so so so happy. She was born at 1:05 a.m. on Thursday, August 18th! (Not my due date!) She was 7 lbs, 8 oz and 20 inches, and had so much black hair - she looks exactly like her big brother, Eli. Eli had gone to bed earlier and wanted to be woken up when the baby came. Someone went and got him, but he was too far gone...

Brand new Greta
Jeremy with Greta

The next morning...
The biggest lesson I learned from Greta's birth is that I need to go into  labor without any assumptions. I learned from Iris' birth that I had to be patient and wait for baby to be ready, and I felt so mentally and emotionally healthy with the idea of being post-dates with Greta. Many people told me that third babies come more quickly than previous labors, and having such short labors before (7 and 5 hours) I assumed that this time I'd have a baby by lunch time. With my next baby, I'll be ready for him to come how, when and where he wants to come! 

My friend Christa (who is a big birth junkie) sent me this message the day after Greta was born: "Every birth I attend I give one word. It took me awhile to pick yours. DETERMINED...because it seemed even when your body wasn't so sure that baby was coming, you were. luv c.


  1. I LOVED being at Greta's birth! Thank you so much for having me - I will happily do it next time - cuz you know you will do it again :)

  2. There's nothing like the moments just before and after a new little soul enters the world. Welcome little Greta! Amber, I love your birth story! It is so true that we can never know what our birth will be like. It is a guarantee that it will just be what it needs to be.