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Posts Tagged ‘midwife’

I love being pregnant, but I have also found pregnancy to be a time of testing. In previous pregnancies I was often tempted to worry. I would fret over where the baby would be born. I worried about having a miscarriage, pre-term labour or unnecessary interventions being done during birth.

It didn’t happen all at once, but gradually in this my six pregnancy, I became aware of a beautiful peace. I felt my fears dissolve in the presence of an Almighty, Sovereign God. I couldn’t control the outcome, but it was in God’s hands and I could rest in that.

I wanted to enjoy this pregnancy. Now more than ever I realized that pregnancy is a brief and fleeting season and I wanted to appreciate the miracle of new life. There were the usual discomforts (nausea, hip pain and heartburn to name a few!) but it was a small price to pay considering the joy and privilege of carrying and bringing forth a precious babe.

I felt that I could go into labour quite early this time. I had so many contractions beginning in the sixth month that I prepared myself for the possibility of having a preemie and having a prolonged stay at the hospital. I was thankful for each week that went by. I felt excited as I approached my 37th week. I hoped to make it to my due date, but at least after the 37th week the baby would be considered term and we wouldn’t need to stay in the hospital.

I had an exhaustingly busy week and on the evening of March sixth I felt a tremendous need to get things ready for the birth. I tried to stay calm and only gathered up the important things. I knew what I really needed was rest, so I tried not to overdo things. I felt relief the next morning when I realized that I had not gone into labour. That night I again felt like I needed to have everything ready. I put the diaper bag, camera and purse by the door, and put the baby clothes with the car seat so we could be ready to run, and then went to bed early.

That night I awoke at 11:20, and minutes later my water broke. “The baby is coming!” I told Kevin. Kevin sat straight up. “It’s too early,” he said startled. I reassured him that the baby was term though still three weeks early and would be fine.

We dashed about wildly and got the children out of bed and into the vehicle. We were headed out the driveway only 20 minutes after waking up. By 12:30 I was having regular contractions and I called the midwife and my friend Miriam (who was going to look after the children) and told them that we would be at the hospital in 30 minutes.

I put my seat back and lay on my side cuddled in a blanket. I wanted to enjoy this labour and experience it. I have found my labours almost too short and this time I decided to focus on what was happening in my body. I felt wonderfully peaceful and joyful as we drove through the night. William was so excited that he was roaring in the back and we all laughed together.

As we approached Prince George the contractions got much stronger and I wondered if we would make it to the hospital. “I’m going to grab a coffee at Tim Horton’s,” Kevin informed me.  I told him that there wasn’t time!

We arrived at the hospital at 1:00, but by the time we had got the time card from the parking meter and made our way through the maze of halls to labour and delivery (stopping a couple of times when I had a contraction) it was 1:10. Though I did not look like a woman who was about to give birth, I knew that things would happen quickly now that we had arrived at the hospital and I asked if we could fill up the birthing tub.

The water was very soothing. I rocked on my hands and knees during contractions and sat back between them. I felt ecstatic as I looked around the room at my husband and children and tears of joy came to my eyes. I was surrounded with love and we would soon meet our baby!

In minutes I was pushing. Low, deep sighs coursed through my body and moved my baby down. I had been studying midwifery, so it was fascinating to be so aware of what was happening. I told everyone when the baby crowned and I could see the baby’s head before I gave the final push and caught my precious baby in my own hands. “It’s a boy!” I whispered, filled with awe.

Though our little Joel was born three weeks early, he was a healthy 6 pounds 10 ounces and there were no complications. He was born at 1:26 am, only 16 minutes after arriving in the delivery room! I am so very thankful for how it all turned out and we are praising God for our sweet baby Joel.

 

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Apparently, I have an addiction to babies. When Melanie was one I started longing for another baby, actually two. I was praying for twins! No, twins don’t run in the family. I had about a 1 in 85 chance of conceiving twins, but that didn’t stop me from praying. Soon I was expecting again.

Only a few days after we found out that I was pregnant, a woman stood up in church and announced that she was expecting twins. I felt very disappointed. I was the one that wanted twins and surely there couldn’t be two women expecting twins in our small congregation.

We had moved and for the first time it looked like we would be able to have a home birth. I was very much looking forward to this birth. We wouldn’t need to leave home like with the other births and I had learned that I could trust God and that He would work all things out.

I was measuring big again this pregnancy and our midwife brought up the possibility of twins. I told her that this had happened in the previous pregnancy. I asked her if she thought there might be twins, but she felt that I didn’t seem as wide as would be expected for twins and I put the idea out of my head.

One night, when I was about 20 weeks along, I had my hands on my belly feeling the rolling and kicking within. Suddenly, I was startled with the realization that I could feel two heads. Twins! I was so excited that I had a hard time falling back to sleep.

By morning I was doubting my experience in the night. I scheduled an ultra-sound and waited. Two weeks later I was laying on the ultra-sound table. I waited. Minutes passed and she didn’t say anything. I figured there must only be one baby. “We thought there might be twins,” I finally said. “Well, you were right to think so!” she announced. “There’s definitely two babies.” I wept tears of joy through the rest of the examination and felt like I was floating on clouds during the drive home.

I was soon to learn though, that a “high-risk” pregnancy would be very different then my previous pregnancies and our midwife would not be allowed to attend a homebirth. Also, we would need to see an obstetrician.

At about 30 weeks we had our first appointment with the obstetrician. He told us that he would perform a c-section at 38 weeks as one of the twins was in breech position. We left feeling very anxious. Our midwife informed us that there was another obstetrician that would be more favourable to delivering a breech birth naturally. Unfortunately, I went into labour before that appointment arrived.

I began having braxton hicks contractions very frequently. These were often quite strong, and we were concerned about the possibility of pre-term labour. One of the biggest risks with a twin pregnancy is delivering too early. If I went into labour before 32 weeks, I would need to be flown to Vancouver. It was easy to worry.

I also worried that I wouldn’t have the time to do everything that would need to be done after the twins were born. I started filling up my freezer with dinners. I regret this. I should have been resting, not cooking up a storm!

One day, I decided to make pizzas for the freezer, not 1 or 2, but 6 or 8. It took me all day. I had to cook the meat, chop all the toppings, grate the cheese, knead the dough, make the pizza sauce. The worst was rolling out the dough. The braxton-hicks contractions came back to back and very strong. I would lay down for 15 min and try to roll out the dough for 5. I was deeply regretting ever starting this project and I just wanted it to be over!

I fell into bed that night exhausted, but after sleeping for only 30 min, my water broke. I was trembling and crying. I was only 34 weeks, and I felt afraid for the babies. It wasn’t time yet, and I felt that I had brought on labour by all the work I had done that day. Kevin prayed with me, and I felt better, reminding myself that God was in control.

I hadn’t had any contractions yet, but I phoned the midwife to let her know that my water had broke. She knew that my other labours had been fast and wanted me at the hospital right away. I phoned a friend and asked her to meet us at the hospital. She would look after our 2 daughters. It was only a 20 min drive to the hospital. I had my first contraction on the way there and it was very strong.

The obstetrician checked my cervix and did an ultrasound. One of the babies was coming out foot first; a footling breech. She told me that they needed to perform an emergency c-section. We talked to our midwife and she recommended going ahead with the c-section, as a footling breech birth is a higher risk than a full breech. One of the dangers is that the cord can prolapse and then get pinched off. Another problem is that the baby can descend into the birth canal before the cervix is fully dilated and then get stuck at the head.

It seemed like everyone was panicking at this point. I had only had 2 or 3 contractions, but I was already 6 cm dilated. They felt the need to do the c-section immediately. The anaesthesiologist came in and told me that they were going to put me under general anaesthetic. This is quite rare now. There is a higher risk for mothers and babies than with a local anaesthetic, and it is very disturbing for women to be asleep while their babies are being born.

I told the anaesthsiologist that it was very important for me to be awake and that I declined the general anaesthetic. He told me that they would go ahead with it anyway. I couldn’t believe my ears. I knew that I had the right of refusal; the right to refuse any medical treatment. I told him this too, but he said that the need for immediate action overrode my right of refusal.

I felt very alone and afraid. Things were happening so fast (we’d only been at the hospital about 20 min), and I didn’t know what to do.

The anaesthesiologist and the obstetrician talked quickly and I was relieved that we were going ahead with an epidural. They had an awful time getting in an IV. They tried in both hands and both arms. They talked of trying my feet and legs. Tension was building. There was more trouble with the epidural; I couldn’t bend enough. I was short and carrying twins, so I really stuck out in the front and didn’t have much room to bend. Also the contractions were back to back and it was very difficult for me to bend while my uterus was so tight.

Finally, the epidural had started. The doctor asked if I had any feeling in my abdomen, which I did. He asked if it hurt as he grabbed my abdomen with tongs. I said it didn’t really hurt, but I could feel it. They decided to go ahead with the surgery. As it turned out, the anaesthetic didn’t really work and I had a lot of pain during the surgery.

It didn’t take long for the babies to be delivered. I had 2 little boys! Ethan was delivered first. He was bigger and stronger at 5 lbs. 15 oz. Owen was smaller at 4 lbs. 14 oz. and took much longer to start breathing. I only saw them briefly before they were whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

It was after Kevin and the boys left, that the surgery became very painful. Everything needed to be put back into place and both my uterus and abdomen needed to be stitched. It was a very strange pain. I tried not to make a sound because I knew they would give me a general.

After the surgery, I went into shock. I began shaking so bad that I thought I would fall off the bed. The nurses covered me with hot sheets. One nurse spoke to me very gently, while stroking my hand. Her kindness made such an impression on me. Actually, she remembered me when we went into to have William even though four and a half years had passed.

Kevin came in and told me that he would be taking our daughters home. For a time, I was alone in that room. It all seemed so very strange. Only a few hours before, I had been asleep in my bed, my babies safely in my womb. Now I was alone, so desperately alone.

I longed to see my babies, but I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the recovery room until I was able to move my legs. I concentrated on my toes. I imagined moving them. I tried and tried to move my legs. The sheet moved! The midwife was very surprised that I had already re-gained movement. She told me that I would need to be bathed before they could take me though. It seems kind of funny now, but at the time I felt quite upset. I felt like yelling, “Please, just take me to my babies!”

Finally, they wheeled the bed out of the room and into the elevator and up to the NICU. They opened the double doors to make room for the bed, and there were my little ones. They were in separate beds with warming lights over them. I wasn’t allowed to hold them, but I talked and talked to them. Eventually I had to leave. I new that the midwife was eager to get home. I said good-night to my precious babies and was wheeled into a room for the rest of the night. A nurse would later tell me that she had been there in the NICU that night and that everyone knew that I didn’t want to leave.

It must have been about 4:00 am when they settled me into the room. The last thing that I wanted to do was sleep. All I wanted to do was hold my babies. I still hadn’t held my babies. I cried and I waited. The dawn slowly arrived and still I waited.

A nurse finally arrived at about 7:00. “Please take me to see my babies,” I pleaded. The nurses were in the middle of a shift change and visitors weren’t normally allowed into the NICU until after 8:00, but an allowance was made for me. She helped me get into the wheel chair and brought me into the nursery.

Ethan and Owen were in separate incubators, in separate rooms. They had tubes in their noses and wires hooked up to their chests and hands. It all seemed very frightening to me. I still couldn’t hold them, but was able to open a little door into the incubator so I could stroke my babies. I would sit by one of my boys and sing and coo at him and then move into the other room and stroke my other little boy.

Kevin brought Myra and Melanie and we spent the day together. After they left, others came and visited. By that evening, I was finally allowed to hold Ethan, but not nurse him. The doctor felt that Owen was too small to leave the incubator.

At 10:30 that night, I was absolutely exhausted. I had only slept 30 min in the past 40 hours and the past 24 hours had been among the most stressful of my entire life. It was at this point that my roommate wanted to talk! She had delivered a baby girl the day before my twins were born. Her little girl was also born by c-section and in the NICU. We got to know one another for a while before she asked me about my faith.

She had noticed my husband and I praying. A pastor friend and his wife had also visited and prayed with me. She had a catholic background, but didn’t know what it was like to have a personal relationship with God. She asked me many questions.

The irony of the situation was that I had been longing for an opportunity like this. I have a sweet relationship with God and love to share my faith with those who are interested. At this point though, I was just hungry for sleep. I finally got to sleep at about 12:30 that night.

Owen was 2 days old before I was allowed to hold him. This was very upsetting to me. He was small, but otherwise healthy. What made the situation especially frustrating, is they had articles on the wall about the wonderful benefits of kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is the term used to describe the practice of keeping the baby next to the mothers (or fathers) skin for extended periods of time. This article explained that babies as young as 28 weeks gestation, fared significantly better when kangaroo care was used. Owen was 34 weeks, but the doctor was concerned that I might tear his skin if I held him!

The following days and nights were a blur. I spent my time nursing the boys, pumping milk and visiting with Kevin and the girls. I felt terribly torn. When I was with Kevin and the girls, I felt separated from the boys. When I was with Ethan and Owen, I felt like I should be with Kevin, Myra and Melanie. I was running dangerously low on sleep too. The boys were on a 3 hour schedule. During the night, I would nurse them and then pump milk and have 1 to 1 ½ hours to sleep before they would need to be fed again.

It took a long time to feed them, as they were very sleepy and consequently not very good at nursing. They had to be weighed before and after nursing to determine how much milk they received and then we would have to feed them the rest of the milk required through the tubes in their noses. And I never slept at all during the day.

We spent 2 weeks at the hospital. More then once I was told to go home and have a shower or a good nights sleep, but I would burst into tears at the thought of going home without my babies. I was overjoyed when the time came to go home. I knew that there would be many trials ahead, but I just wanted to be together as a family again.

I had thought that this would be such an easy pregnancy. I thought that it would be so peaceful. In my first 2 pregnancies I had learned that I could trust God, but God wanted to teach me how to trust Him even when things don’t work out the way that I would have wanted them too.

About 6 weeks after the boys were born, I realized that I was carrying around some resentment and bitterness. During the end of my pregnancy, Kevin and I talked a lot about how we wanted God to be glorified in this birth. We planned on singing the hymn “To God Be the Glory” immediately after the birth. That isn’t how it turned out though.

“To God Be the Glory,” had been one of my favourite songs, but I found I couldn’t sing it anymore. “We wanted to glorify You God, why did you allow things to turn out the way they did?” I prayed. It was then that God opened my eyes. It was if He was saying, “I was glorified.” I realized that people had seen our faith in the midst of a storm. They saw us turning to God for strength when the going was rough.

In the 2 weeks at the hospital, I spent a lot of time talking with the woman that I shared the room with. Our friendship continued even after I’d left the hospital. I got to know all the nurses that worked in the NICU. They saw me loving my babies, praying with them and singing to them. They saw my faith and that is what God had intended all along. To God be the glory!

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After my miscarriage, my arms felt so empty. It took six months to get pregnant again. It seemed like a very long time. I was filled with joy when I found that I was expecting, but we decided against telling others. We chose to wait until after I had an ultra-sound at 8 weeks. We just didn’t want our children to have to go through that excitement and then grief if I were to miscarry again.

There was a strong mix of feelings tumbling within me as I went for the ultra-sound. Kevin and the children waited in the vehicle while I went in. “Is everything all right,” I asked the technician nervously. “Everything looks beautiful,” she answered with a smile. She turned the screen towards me and I could see my tiny little baby, so small that I hadn’t felt any movements yet, but perfect and beautiful. I could see my little one’s head in perfect profile and I could see the heart beating strongly.

When I got back into the vehicle, I nodded to Kevin that everything was fine and we told our children right then. They were so happy and joyous! We then went and visited some close friends and they rejoiced with us too. That day was a celebration. I tried to really enjoy that pregnancy. I never wanted to take that time for granted. It can be a difficult time in many ways. There are many discomforts and sleepless nights, but it is a season, a glorious season and I wanted to treasure it.

My doctor had prayed for this baby and she rejoiced with us. Each appointment was like a visit with a dear friend. As my pregnancy progressed though, I began to feel a lot of apprehension and anxiety about the birth. As dear as this doctor was to me, I came to realize that we felt very differently about the process of birth.

My doctor was quite concerned about, attempting a natural birth because of the c-section that I had had 4 1/2 years earlier. There is some risk of the uterus rupturing during labour and this is very dangerous for the baby. She recommended a repeat c-section, but was willing to go ahead with a trial of labour. She made it very clear to me though, that if anything at all was amiss, she would perform a c-section. Even if everything was fine she might go ahead with a c-section if there was a risk of the operating room being occupied later, as there is only 1 operating room and limited staff. She asked me to trust her to make those decisions.

I left feeling very frightened and confused. Childbirth is so beautiful to me and a c-section seems utterly bizarre. This process of routinely slicing open a woman’s abdomen and uterus, when God had designed a perfectly good way to deliver babies, does not sit well with me. I am thankful that the operation is as safe as it is and it undoubtedly saves the lives of both mothers and babies, but I still feel that it is grossly over used.

I was aware of the increased risk of uterine rupture, but I was also aware of the increased risks of a repeat c-section. A woman is significantly more likely to die after a c-section than after a vaginal birth and there is also some increased risk to the baby, as excess fluid is not pressed out of the babies lungs and the baby can have an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic. The fact that I might also want more children later on weighed heavily on the decision. Each c-section weakens the uterus and puts future babies at increased risk.

I really didn’t feel like I could trust our doctor to make decisions that I would be comfortable with. Our views on childbirth were too different and I would not be able to accept a c-section just because the OR might be full later, or because I wasn’t dilating at the exact rate deemed necessary.

This was a time of great turmoil for me. Undoubtedly, this doctor had been provided by God. Why did I feel so terribly uneasy? I prayed to God and asked Him for His direction and peace. He showed me that this doctor had been provided to help me through my miscarriage and that it was okay to look for another care provider for the rest of this pregnancy and birth. I brought my fears to Kevin and he was astonished that I was thinking of switching doctors this late, (I was 7 months pregnant) and especially when I loved the doctor I had. I told him that the apprehension I had just wasn’t going away. He gave me permission to look for another care provider.

What I really wanted was another midwife, but the possibility of finding one so late in my pregnancy was very small. Midwives are in huge demand here, and if you want a midwife it is recommended that you find one as soon as you find out you are pregnant. It would also mean having our baby in Prince George as there are no midwives in Vanderhoof. I was very willing to do this, if only we could find a midwife. I asked God to bless my search and phoned a practice in Prince George.

I talked to Jane, a midwife that had been practising in Prince George for about 4 years. I told her my story and she said that she would be willing to take me on as a client as she was concerned about the possibility that I might end up with an unnecessary c-section. This was music to my ears! We made an appointment to see her and I felt the anxiety lift off of me.

We brought the whole family to the appointment and had a great time. Jane included all the children and it felt so good to talk everything out. When we left, we felt very at peace in our decision to switch to Jane’s care.

One thing ahead would be very hard though; I would need to tell my doctor that we were leaving her care. It was recommended that I just phone the office and tell the secretary that I was switching care providers. I knew though, that that would be wrong. This doctor had given me so much. I knew that I owed her an explanation and a good-bye. I went for my next appointment and explained the situation.

I honestly believe that she was very happy for me. She knew that I had had midwives in my previous pregnancies and felt that I would be more comfortable with their care. She also felt that the Prince George hospital would be much safer for me to deliver in, as they are much better staffed and because there is a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) so in the event that I did have a uterine rupture, there would be a much better chance of a good outcome. She told me, that if she thought she could have convinced me to go to Prince George to have the baby, she would have done it. I left the office feeling so wonderfully relieved and peaceful.

The rest of the pregnancy went very well. We loved our visits with Jane and always stayed way longer then we should have! I had one concern though. My labour with Melanie had only been an hour and a half and the hospital was an hour and fifteen minutes away. There was the very real chance, of having the baby on the way there. I read up on unassisted childbirth and that helped me to feel more comfortable about the possibility. I put together a bundle of supplies to use in the event that I would give birth en route. It even included a suction bulb syringe to clear baby’s nasal passage!

I awoke very early one morning with contractions. I was 35 weeks along at the time. They were quite strong and regular; about 5 minutes apart. We decided to head to Prince George. Jane met us at her office. It had been 2 hours since the contractions started and they were about the same strength and frequency as at the beginning. Jane palpated my uterus during a contraction and told us that they were strong, and I was 4 cm dilated. We decided against going to the hospital right away though; labour was not progressing as quickly as was normal for me and there was the chance that the contractions would subside.

By noon, the contractions were irregular and we decided to go home. I really wondered how I was going to know when I was in real labour. Those contractions had been as strong as the ones I had just before giving birth to Melanie. They were more than Braxton Hicks contractions, because they were causing dilation. We just had to trust that God was in control. I felt very thankful that we had switched to Jane’s care. It was quite likely that I would have ended up with another c-section and had our baby delivered 5 weeks early, if we had gone to the Vanderhoof hospital.

Three weeks later, I again awoke with contractions. We got everyone ready to go; we prayed and waited. It was very similar to the previous time. The contractions were strong and regular. I had one strong contraction and it spurred me into action. “Let’s go,” I said, and we got all of our children into the vehicle.

Twenty minutes later, the contractions had subsided some. We decided to keep driving. If the contractions stopped, than we would just go home. We hadn’t phoned Jane yet, we wanted to be sure that I was in labour before we called her. I phoned Jane when we were 20 minutes from Prince George and asked her to meet us at her office. I also called a friend and told her that we might be having the baby and to be ready to meet us at the hospital if I was in labour. The plan was that she would look after our children while I gave birth.

I arrived at the office, but Jane wasn’t there yet. I used the washroom beside her office and had a VERY strong contraction. It was at that moment that I KNEW I was in labour. I wondered if I would give birth right there! I went quickly to the van and we phoned Jane and told her that there was a change of plans and to meet us at the hospital!

It was only a 2 min. drive to the hospital, but was like going through a maze to get from the entrance to the maternity ward of the hospital. I had to rest through a contraction once, on the way to the delivery room. I guess that I didn’t look like a woman only minutes away from giving birth and it was recommended that I try walking around the parking lot to get labour going. I declined, thinking that if I left this building, I was going to give birth IN the parking lot. Jane started taking my blood pressure when I had another contraction.

With that contraction, came that incredible desire to push. My friend had arrived to look after the children and I asked her to take the children out of the room. Our baby boy William, was born 15 min later! The children say that that was the most exciting day of their lives.

William has been a wonderful gift for our whole family. I find it’s a very different thing to have a baby when you have older children too. It’s been so much fun. He’s brought so much joy to our family and everyone delights in him. I’ve also had so much help from my girls who were 7 and 9 when William was born.

William is a year and a half old now. I have tried to enjoy this time to the full. One thing that I have learned, is that children grow so fast. I want to cherish this time.

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