Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sawyer's Birth Story

It started on Wednesday, May 4. I had a midwife appointment that morning and after my internal exam (where I'm pretty sure she stripped my membranes) I had lots of cramping throughout the day. I also had some leaking that I thought might be amniotic fluid, but I wasn’t sure because there was such a tiny amount of it. But I definitely felt like something was different, so that night I decided to skip my Lovenox shot just in case. It’s a good thing I did, because at 2:30 a.m. my water broke. I had just made a trip to the bathroom and as I got back into bed I sat up partway to adjust myself and get comfortable. All of a sudden I felt a gush of warm water. It took me about 5 seconds to register what had just happened. I woke Eric up and said “My water just broke!” and jumped out of bed. When he asked “Are you sure?” I just laughed because at that point I was standing in a puddle. There was no mistaking what had happened! We called Margie, the midwife on call and she told us to come to the hospital so they could check me. Eric took a quick shower and I got dressed. I was still leaking a ton of fluid so I wore a short dress with a towel stuffed between my legs. I was glad it was in the middle of the night so none of the neighbors could see me waddling out of the house in that condition. Before we left, Eric gave me a blessing that I would be able to cope with the pain and that everything would go smoothly, and that was very comforting.

I started having contractions on the way to the hospital. They were mild and about 4-5 minutes apart, so I had no problem breathing through them, although some of the bumps we hit didn’t feel very good. Mostly I was excited to get my baby here and I wasn’t thinking too much about the pain. When we arrived at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. they had us sign some forms and put us in a labor and delivery room. They checked with a pH strip and confirmed that my water had broken. I was less than a centimeter dilated, 50% effaced and my contractions were still very mild. Margie and Dr. Giamittorio discussed sending me home to wait for things to get into gear, but since there was a possibility that my water may have been leaking since earlier in the day they decided to keep me and get things moving - the risk of infection increases greatly if the baby isn’t delivered within 24 hours of the membranes rupturing.

While Lynn, my labor and delivery nurse started my IV, Margie put some prostaglandin gel on my cervix to ripen it, with the plan of starting pitocin a few hours later. The pitocin turned out to be unnecessary though, because within 10 minutes of the gel being applied my body went into high gear. The contractions were instantly extremely strong and less than 2 minutes apart. I managed the pain by walking around the room and holding on to Eric while I swayed my hips back and forth. Lynn was incredible and talked me through the difficult contractions, held my hand and rubbed my back. I was having back labor and the pain was quickly getting hard for me to manage, even with so much support from Eric and my nurse. After about 4 hours I was desperate for relief. I asked for an epidural, but Margie and the doctor both felt it was too early, so instead they gave me a shot of Nubain to help me get through for a little longer. Lynn put some in my IV and injected some in my hip. It helped a lot at first. The contractions were just as painful as before, but I was able to relax between them which I hadn’t been able to do previously. The downside was that I had to stay in bed and I wasn’t able to move around like I had done before; in hindsight, this took away a lot of my ability to cope with the contractions.

About 45 minutes later the Nubain wore off and they gave me another dose. This time it was completely ineffectual. I felt dizzy and disoriented with no relief. It was around this point that I felt like I was losing control. I asked for an epidural again, so Margie came in to check me and see what kind of progress had been made in the last 5 hours. Given the strength of my contractions and the pain I was in I was shocked to hear that I was still only one centimeter dilated! My cervix hadn’t budged. Margie told me to hang in there for a few more hours and they would think about an epidural. She was worried having one this early would stall my labor. At this point I was feeling completely desperate and the thought of going through this for hours more sounded like a death sentence. Lynn was quite upset that my doctor wouldn’t let me have the epidural because she could see how much pain I was in. She said “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I know when someone needs an epidural; you need one.” I was so tense from the pain that I couldn’t let my body relax and do its job. After another half hour of screaming and gripping the sides of the bed (I was squeezing so hard that my blood started flowing backwards in the IV) Lynn called Margie in to sit with me for a while. After a few minutes she left, and came back to say that they had called for the anesthesiologist.

At a little after 9:00 he arrived. I’ve never been so glad to see a huge needle in my life! He worked very quickly and I wanted to kiss him and name my child after him. (Unfortunately I was too disoriented to remember his name; in fact I have no idea what he even looked like.) At about 9:10 I told Lynn, “Either I just wet the bed or amniotic fluid is gushing out.” She said “It’s fluid, because right now you’re at the peak of a huge contraction.” If I had been able to I would have jumped up and done a happy dance. The pain was completely gone! I was able to feel and move my legs and I could feel pressure from the contractions, but they didn’t hurt at all. Eric said he had never seen such a transformation in his life. A few minutes later I was eating a popsicle and chatting with my mom on my cell phone. I was even able to doze off a bit, but I was way too excited to actually sleep. In a way it was completely weird to have no unpleasant sensations, and yet be very aware that my body was doing some really hard work. My contractions didn’t slow down one bit but continued exactly the way they had before, strong and fast. Eric and I talked, he played with my hair and rubbed my back and the time passed very pleasantly. It was so nice to have those quiet moments together before our son was born.

At around 1:00 p.m., Margie checked me again. I was dilated to 5 centimeters! Things kept moving along at a moderate pace, about a centimeter an hour. The baby’s heart rate started to decelerate too much when I was on my left side, so they had my lie on my right side for the rest of the labor. At about 6:00 I started feeling a lot of pelvic pressure and I could tell the baby’s head was moving down. Margie had left and Karen was the midwife who took her place. I had a new nurse too, Rachel, who had a quirky sense of humor and kept making us laugh. At 6:40 the pressure became more intense (but hallelujah, still no pain!) and when Karen checked I was fully dilated and ready to push. They figured it would take a while since this was my first delivery, so Rachel said “Let’s try pushing and see how it goes.” Eric held one of my legs and Rachel held the other. We waited for a contraction, and on my first push the nurse announced “He’s a blondie!” His head was already visible and it was clear that it wasn’t going to take that long for him to be born. They called Karen back in and set up a mirror so I could see. It was so amazing to watch! I pushed for 20 more minutes. It was hard work, but felt so empowering; in sharp contrast to just dealing with the pain, I was DOING something and I could see that it was productive.

Karen was suddenly called out on an emergency, so I got my third midwife, Sue. We had a bit of a scare when the baby was close to crowning and his heart rate suddenly decelerated. Sue decided he needed to come out as quickly as possible, so she had a nurse apply fundal pressure, which basically means this lady put all her weight on my stomach with her elbows to push the baby out from above. It hurt a lot and I could barely breathe, but I pushed as hard as I could and within a couple of pushes his head was out. He had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, which explained the decelerations. His shoulders came out easily, and Sue helped me reach down and pull his body out and pull him up onto my chest. It was the most indescribably amazing moment I’ve ever experienced. I cried and laughed at the same time and Eric couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. Little Sawyer didn’t cry at all, just whimpered a few times, and then looked around the room completely alert like he was just taking it all in.

He weighed 6 lbs 5 oz and was 17 ½ inches long – well over a pound smaller than the lowest ultrasound estimate. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9. I held him and nursed him for about an hour before they took him to the nursery for a bath. I was (and still am) completely overwhelmed with love for him. I was in awe of how perfect and tiny he was and that he was mine.

My mom came into town the next day - she had been planning on coming out for the birth, but Sawyer’s early arrival took us all by surprise. On Saturday they let us go home from the hospital and we’ve been getting settled in ever since, getting to know Sawyer and learning to how care for him.

My birth experience was wonderful and I feel like I could do it ten more times! (You should see the look on Eric’s face when I say that, it’s really funny.) Now that we have Sawyer home I am growing more and more in love with him every day. Eric and I feel closer than ever before and we can’t wait to see who this precious little person grows up to be.


  1. elaine5:37 PM

    I don't know how you remembered so much being in apparently so much pain for so long. Well, you've just confirmed my worst nightmare, it does hurt as much as it looks! I may think twice about the whole thing! THANKFULLY it hasn't been an issue!


  2. I hope you don't mind my writing you, but I saw your blog and think you might be a great fit for an article I am working on. My name is Cynthia Ramnarace, and I'm a writer researching a story on great labor nurses. I read your birth story and it seems you were really happy with yours. Would you be willing to talk with me about what made her so great?

    I'm proposing this article for BabyCenter magazine. I'm a health writer with 10 years experience, and this year I'll be published in American Baby and Parents. If you'd like to learn more about me first, check out my Web site at

    Please visit and e-mail me back to let me know if you are interested in talking to me for this article. If so, I'll send you a few preliminary questions and we'll start there.

    Thanks so much for your time.

    Kindest regards,


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