Friday, November 18, 2011

My Birth Story

The Birth of Magnolia:
Sharing this birth story is very hard for me, because I have a birth sotry that I didn't want, I wanted to deliver at our local birth center Mountain Midwifery Center (MMC) but was unable to due to unexpected circumstances.  Being an MMC client, a transfer to the hospital is a dirty word, it’s the last thing in the world you want, and it’s the worst thing possible; at least in my mind. But maybe sharing this will help me heal mentally because I don’t know how to stop grieving for the birth that I had always wanted. I know this is very long and if you get through this whole story, I thank you for reading it.  My story actually starts way back in the year 2000; I was in college and got very interested in midwifery when I was in my junior year. I took many midwifery classes and I knew that if I were to have children someday, I would not have them in a hospital setting. When Josh and I started trying to have a baby, I did some research to find a place to deliver outside of the hospital and came across the Mountain Midwifery Birth Center.

I read birth stories on their blog and loved them, the staff seemed great and the classes they required were exactly what I wanted to learn about during my pregnancy.  I knew we had found the right place to deliver our child. In Feb, 2011, we found out that we were pregnant and I scheduled our orientation at the birth center.

Aubre was the person who did our orientation and seeing her smiling face for the first time, I knew that we had found the right place to give birth. We scheduled our first appointment and from then on felt like we were always in the right place, I enjoyed the checkups each month, the classes and all the staff; it made me feel connected to the place where we would give birth. Each time we walked up the stairs for our appointments and saw the door to the ‘birthing’ side of the center with the sign that read “Stop, are a Woman in labor?” I got excited and looked forward to walking through that door myself, in fact, I couldn’t wait to walk through that door and deliver our baby.
Our official due date with the midwives was November 2nd; and I kept hoping babe come on or before Halloween, but Halloween came and went and no contractions or baby. The next morning, Tuesday, I had an appt with the midwives around 11am, and from the instant I woke up that day, I had a fear about having to birth in the hospital. Maybe it was a premonition. It was always an underlying fear of mine, but I kept trying to push it down and away, I am healthy, baby is healthy, there is no reason to go to the hospital. We got to our appointment and met with Cassie and Tiffany; my blood pressure got taken and it was a bit high at 140/90. I knew that having a high BP was a reason I couldn’t deliver at the birth center and I fretted about that, but kept thinking it was because I was having a bad morning, I had been crying and emotional all day and figured that had to be the reason for the high BP.
  Cassie asked if I wanted my membranes swept and I agreed to it because of the high BP, I knew going into labor and getting baby out was the only cure for pregnancy induced hypertension and I hoped this would help get labor going and I would stop fretting about the BP. Before my appt. ended, Cassie checked my BP again, it was still high, she took some blood and ran some labs and said that I needed to take home a 24 hour pee jug; catch my pee for 24 hours and we will check uric acid content to make sure nothing was very wrong. I would receive a call later that night regarding my labs and if I needed to start the pee jug. The bloodwork came back normal, but the pee from the cup came back inconclusive, so I was to start peeing in the jug the next morning. I was very nervous at that point, tearful and scared, but kept my chin up in hopes that things would change.  The next morning I lost my mucus plug and I was very excited to be going into labor, at least early labor; I focused on seeing my baby and not the tests, kept peeing in the jug and had lots of bloody show all day.

At one point I had a question and called the midwives and talked to Aubre, who reassured me that my labs were good and answered my questions and helped me calm down. She really helped me to focus on the baby and labor, not the labs. I was able to stop worrying so much that afternoon and I was grateful for that gift she gave me. I definitely had early labor contractions all day, I rested and hoped they would get stronger; I focused on keeping my blood pressure down and hoped it would work.
The next day I had to take my 24 hour pee jug back to MMC for testing. I was just going to drop it off and leave, but when I stepped out of the car I had a trickle of water run down my leg to my flip flop. I thought it could be a slow leak in my bag of water, and being GBS positive, I’d rather have it checked now, then get home and have my water break and drive all the way back for antibiotics. However, it happened to be a very busy day at MMC, my good friend Laura was in labor (I can’t share my birth story without including her; we shared the same due date, birthing classes and many other similarities during pregnancy, her water had broken yesterday when I lost my mucus plug and she and I had chatted all day about our labors until hers got pretty intense and she went to the birth center). It happened that the only midwife that could check me was Sarah, who was helping the mamas in labor; I waited until she came over from the birthing side of the center and she checked my water (it had not broken), swept my membranes again and told me I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was making some progress at least. I also tried to talk with her about my high BP, but wasn’t getting much positive reassurance from her, I really needed someone to talk to me with some compassion about this huge fear of going to the hospital, no MMC client wants to be at the hospital and I was scared, my birth plan was changing in front of me and I didn’t have my husband there for support.
Next, Tracy came into the room and wanted to check my BP, she checked laying down which was a bit high but not higher than 140/90 and then sitting up. It was 141/91 sitting up. Not good. She talked to me about going over to a doctor at Swedish and I said I’d prefer to deliver with a woman; but even with this brief conversation I still believed the 24 hour jug of urine was the decision maker, I didn’t understand that she was setting me up to transfer to the Swedish hospital midwives and I was very confused at what transpired next.

<---- Here I am holding baby Amelia, while I was still pregnant with Magnolia in the hospital at Swedish.

Tracy asked if I could hang out for a few minutes, I said yes, and about 30 minutes later Abby the nurse came back into the room with a sticky note saying they had scheduled me with the Swedish midwives in an hour and a half. I was very confused, I said ‘this means I am not coming back here?’ and Abby said ‘no.’ I couldn’t understand why Tracy had not come back and talked to me about this, I couldn’t understand how they were just kicking me out, I didn’t have Josh there with me, it happened so fast, I was bawling and so very upset. I thought I was dropping off a jug of pee and now I was being transferred to the Swedish midwives that I didn’t know at all, in the middle of early labor, I was practically hysterical! Even as I write this, I cannot stop the tears from flowing; everything I had hoped for our birth (the birth that I had wanted for 10+ years) was pulled out from under me so very suddenly, and it didn’t seem like a big deal to them at all; I was actually told to ‘go get some lunch before the appointment.’ Um, no I don’t think that will work while I am hysterical. I couldn’t understand how after being so invested in the place where we were giving birth that we could be sent away so casually.    The only saving grace that day was Heather T, who was working reception, she suggested that I call the ‘on call doula program’, she also said that they weren’t abandoning me (I very much felt like they were) and she tried her best to help calm me down and prepare me for what was next.

Even then I realized Tracy did us a favor in setting me up with the Swedish midwives rather than with physicians, I also realized that she was trying to do this so I met them ahead of time, rather than when I was actually in labor and had to be transferred. These things didn’t escape me at all, but what I really needed was a much better conversation WITH MY HUSBAND and the MMC midwives so that our questions could be answered and we could feel comfortable with the change of plans and we did not get that at all.

I hysterically called Josh who rushed to MMC and I sat in the downstairs room and cried while waiting for him, I also asked if Tracy could come down and talk to us when he got there. She did, but was on her way out the door and the conversation felt very rushed. For those of you who know us personally, you know that Josh is about the most mellow, calm, and joyful person you could ever meet; that day he was mad, and that is very rare for him. He could hardly comfort me (although he did his best) because he was so upset. I could see it in his face and he couldn’t let it go. We called the on call doula program, and we were so glad that we did; Ann was recommended by Heather T and so Josh talked to her and she offered to meet us at the Swedish midwives appointment.
We left and walked over to the Swedish midwives office, their staff was really great, offered me some food, all I had eaten was breakfast that morning, and brought us into a room so I didn’t have to be bawling in the waiting room. Even the nurse sat with us and talked to us while waiting for Jennifer, one of the Swedish midwives. We consulted with her, asked a zillion questions, got answers some that we liked, some that we didn’t; one being that because of the possible hypertension (the labs weren’t back so really we had 2 high BP’s when I was very nervous and normal blood work) that I would have to be hooked up to monitors for the entire labor and I could walk around the bed and sit on the ball, no water laboring, no walking around in the hallway, nothing to help me cope with the pain besides the bed and ball and rocking chair. That was about the worst news I could get that day besides the transfer, I felt devastated, and how was I going to deal with labor on a leash of cords and monitors? The plan was to wait for the 24 hour pee jug to come back and see what that told us, and I would probably be induced the next day. I did understand the implications about continuing pregnancy with high blood pressure and I knew delivering sooner than later would be better for baby and me.

During the consult with Swedish Midwife Jennifer, Ann the doula arrived at the appointment and after our consult with the midwife we decided to grab a bite to eat with Ann to get to know each other and talk about this huge change of plans.
Ann had heard from Heather T that the transfer was very sudden for us and that I didn’t really get all the counseling that I probably should have, so she knew what she was dealing with; two sad and upset parents to be who had their entire plans change in a matter of a few minutes. Ann asked about my biggest fear and what I was most sad about, my answers c-section and not being able to write a birth story for the birth center birth. Her words of wisdom that I cherished that day were; ‘you can still write an empowering hospital birth story, many women can’t deliver at MMC for a variety of reasons and you can show them that you can have an empowering hospital birth.’ I took this to heart and focused on it.  We went home that afternoon, Josh and I still grieving and waiting for Swedish midwife Jennifer to call regarding labs. My uric acid content was slightly elevated (later I found out it was still within the parameters of normal, but on the high end) and she recommended induction the next day at 7am.

We agreed to that because I was just ready to have this over with, my birth was not going to be what I wanted and I just wanted to meet my little baby. We tried all the things to start labor naturally that evening, in hopes to avoid the pitocin, but nothing seemed to work. We never heard from the MMC midwives that night, but we had expected they’d follow up with us. The worst part of all of this was leaving MMC so upset because we were never able to calm down and leave the anger behind, we didn’t sleep much that night and I knew this was going to be rough for labor the next day.
I texted my friend Laura who was laboring at MMC that I hoped she had her baby girl by that time, I hoped she had the birth she wanted and that everything was great. I also said I had to be induced and was going to Swedish the next morning. I received a text back that she had placenta problems and was recovering at Swedish and would be staying the night, maybe we’d see each other the next day. Laura and I had so many similarities during pregnancy and it was just one more conscience that she and I would both be at the hospital, the place where we didn’t want to be at all, on the same day, at least she was able to give birth at the birth center.
Josh and I got about 4 hours of sleep that night and got up very early to eat breakfast and get to the hospital by 7am for induction. We were meeting a different midwife, Mary, for our birth, which made me sad because I had gotten to know Jennifer at least a little bit. Mary was nice, a beekeeper and grandmother; I liked her, we asked questions again about delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, and many others which she answered. I still got the same answer about my leash of monitors and laboring around the bedside. Ann requested all the birthing items from the nurses; they set me up on pitocin and vancomycin for my GBS positivity. The vanco made me very nauseous and flushed when it was started at 9am, and I needed another dose 12 hours later; I said that I am getting this baby out before my next dose of vanco because it made me feel awful.
We had texted our friends Laura and David who happened to be on the labor and delivery floor, right across the hall from us, apparently Swedish recovery was full and that is where they ended up! Shocked, I said they could come over and see us and bring new baby Amelia; Josh went over to see them and later that morning David brought Amelia to see me while Laura rested. I got to hold her and my baby was kicking while I was holding Amelia. It was pretty adorable. David told us about Laura and Amelia’s birthing experience; Laura had a rough delivery and handled it very well, I took strength from her that day after hearing her story. She was much in my thoughts throughout my labor.

That morning went pretty smoothly, I was still a little angry but trying to focus on contractions; my highest BP was the first one taken that morning, from then on they continued to get lower and lower as my labor progressed. Basically I had been told a woman in labor doesn’t have her BP go down, but mine was; so maybe there was no pregnancy induced hypertension at all, just nerves. This really upset me, because I could have been at the birth center after all. At one point, I looked over and it was 120/70. What? I continued to labor on the ball, then had to be unhooked to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes, I enjoyed the time on the toilet because I could feel my hips opening up more and more. I stared at the tub though, and wished I could get into it.
Around noon Laura and David stopped in to say goodbye, Laura talked to me a little bit about her birth; I asked ‘can I do this?’ she gave me some encouraging words and they were on their way home. Shortly after they left, my contractions picked up. It was then that the nurse realized no-one had plugged my pitocin back into the wall after my last potty break and my contractions were getting stronger on their own; they were actually getting strong enough that I had to breathe through them. At that point, they checked my BP again and baby, then unhooked me from the machines and said I could labor naturally, in the tub, I could walk around, and I just had to be monitored every hour. YAY! At least something was going my way. I got into the tub and felt so much better.  Then one of the best things happened, MMC midwife Cassie came into the room; I was so glad to see her I almost cried.

She apologized profusely about how I was sent to the Swedish midwives and said we could talk about this now, or not, whatever I was comfortable with. Of course, I needed to talk about it. She said we should be very mad at them, and that she hoped we’d forgive them but they made a huge mistake; when they were discharging me a text was made to her (since she originally did my labs) and she never received it because it was sent to the wrong number. It should have never went down like it did and she was very sorry. I really needed to hear that, a weight was lifted off of me with those words, and I really did feel like I could have an empowered hospital birth at that moment. I asked her if I could still put our baby’s name on their baby ‘tree’ painting in the waiting room, she said ‘of course you can.’ I really thought I would not be able to since I didn’t deliver there; I was so happy about that. Cassie stayed with me for about an hour as she sat on the bathroom floor while I labored in the tub and between contractions we talked. She said I was doing so well, so strong, she was very impressed; that also made me feel great; she said that Ann had created a great environment for me and she was glad things were going well. Cassie talked to Josh too; he really needed that, and both of us felt like we were on the right track again; not in the right place, but the anger was fading away. It was around maybe 2pm when she came and I told her I wanted babe to be out by 9pm so I didn’t have to have another round of antibiotics, she said it sure looked like baby would be out by then; this is a woman who knows what she is talking about and I hoped she was right. Cassie said we could call her if we needed her, she was on call that night and she went to check on some other patients.
Ann had created a great environment for us, with candles in the bathroom (not real ones), lavender oil, we had our birth music blaring, and things seemed really peaceful and beautiful. This was my favorite part of labor, I felt at peace and happy to meet babe soon; Ann and Josh rubbed my hips and back, and continued to pamper me while I dealt with the waves of pressure. At one point Ann left Josh and I alone in the tub for some alone time and we were able to kiss and hold each other, it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and I will always cherish it. I think I fell more in love with my husband that day. Not all labor is bad or painful, and there were several hours with intense contractions where I felt pretty at peace, the contractions hurt, but weren’t unbearable and with each one I was closer to holding our baby.
Surprisingly time seemed to fly by during labor, contractions picked up and up; I labored in the tub, on the toilet, on the ball, got checked and was progressing some 5cm, 90% effaced. They wanted to break my water then, but I wasn’t comfortable with any interventions that early and declined. Mary was a little concerned (and had been all day) about babe’s heart rate variability, which didn’t change much; she said we’d like babe to be an A+ and babe is a B+ right now.

I felt okay with that, and let them worry about it while I focused on laboring. I was told by Ann and heard the nurses say how amazing I was doing without pain meds (I guess they don’t see that much at the hospital); it made me feel good to know that I was being strong.

I was checked again a few hours later and was at 6cm. Not much progress. They wanted to break my bag of water and we agreed at that time. It didn’t hurt to have my water broken, the gush of water was warm and I hoped this would speed things up some. I was told there was a moderate amount of meconium in the water and they wanted to monitor me more closely and babe too. I was able to get in the tub once more, and after that next hour getting back on the monitors babe’s heart rate variability wasn’t doing better, in fact a little worse. I started to worry about this and hoped everything was alright. I had been at 6cm for several hours and nothing was changing, baby’s head was coming down some, but that was about it.

This is the point where I think that if I was at MMC, they would have suggested different positions, and other things to speed up the labor, and I didn’t get this with our new midwife.  Mary talked to me about trying some things different; she suggested some IV drugs to see if I could relax some (not a change of position or other natural intervention), and get some rest, because it looked like this would be an all nighter.

I was a bit hesitant toward this, but I was getting very tired at that point, we hadn’t slept much the night before and I felt like something needed to change. Josh and Ann went to get some food, I got the drugs (we were assured they were safe for babe at this point in labor) and they helped me relax me for an hour; I felt every contraction but just not as strongly. Mary stayed with me and monitored babe, I knew she was concerned at this point, and so was I. I wasn’t able to get off the monitors from that point on because they were worried about baby, I kept telling Mary, please no c-section; I just want to push baby out. After the drugs wore off, I felt overwhelmed with the stronger contractions and thought of getting the epidural at that point, but I pushed through the pain to get in a better mental space, Josh helped immensely with that, he was being so amazing. I was leaning on him while on the toilet, water continued to spill out of me with every contraction and at some point all modesty went out the window as I was walking around naked, half peeing and half dripping water; leaning on Josh moaning. I sat on the ball and leaned into him for each contraction, he was holding my entire weight; I kept chanting things to myself and he and Ann helped me breathe differently through the contractions, I was definitely in laborland and didn’t care what was happening to me, just riding each contraction out, they were coming on top of each other at that point. Water continued to come out of me along with pee as I sat on the ball moaning in pain and wishing each contraction would end, but trying to welcome them as they would help bring babe to us. This was the most intense part of labor for me and I was sure I was in transition or something. Ann was amazing at rubbing my back and shoulders, she was great at queuing me about breathing and so was Josh. They were both such a great support team and I couldn’t have done it without them. Ann kept telling me I was a rock star, doing so well, I heard one of the nurses say this as well (a different nurse, we had been through shift change 2-3 times) and that made me feel pretty good and gave me the strength to keep welcoming the contractions.
I was checked again by Mary hours later and still at 6cm, by this time I had been stuck at 6cm for 6 hours. I asked Josh to call Cassie and see if she had any suggestions (it was hard to completely rely on Mary who was an awesome midwife, but I didn’t know her and wanted confirmation from Cassie that we were doing the right things, we trusted the MMC midwives completely). Cassie told Josh that when a woman gets stuck like that her body stops producing oxytocin and that’s probably why the contractions were so intense, but I wasn’t making progress. She said they would not have kept me at the birth center much past this point because labor becomes too intense for the mama without her body giving the hormones she needs to cope with the pain.
Around that time things get a little foggy for me and I am glad I am writing this so soon after giving birth. Babe was still

not doing great and Mary wanted an internal monitor to be put in so we could check baby and make sure my contraction were strong enough to get baby out. It really pissed me off when she said that because I felt like my contractions were plenty strong and it made me feel a bit inferior. I did not want the monitor that gets stuck to baby’s scalp and made them try the other internal monitor first, which fell out when they wanted me to change positions pretty much immediately. They ‘had’ to use the monitor which attaches to babe’s scalp; I didn’t like this because I can imagine putting a monitor into babe’s scalp can’t feel good, but tried to think back to childbirth class when Heather told us that sometimes these monitors are necessary and it felt necessary then. I never heard if my contractions were strong enough, and the monitors kept falling off baby, I am not sure if they ever got it attached correctly and they had to try it twice, poor little one.

It was around midnight then, and Mary said we needed to do something different I had been stuck at 6cm for too long, something wasn’t right and I still needed to dilate to 10 and push baby out. I also felt my body was different, I felt something wasn’t quite right, things felt too intense. I was getting major back labor, even though little babe was in the right position throughout the entire pregnancy, babe had turned ‘sunny side up’ for the delivery. My poor mother was in labor for 3 days with me because I was in this position, I knew this meant a very long labor and I wasn’t’ sure how I was going to do this, but I knew I could do it, women have done it, my mother did it, I could too; but I didn’t know if baby could handle it. I was persistent that I could continue to labor without any more interventions as long as baby was alright, this is when Mary said that baby was not doing well at all. I was worried. I think part of her reasoning for wanting me to get an epidural was because she felt a c-section was inevitable and wanted me to have the proper anesthesia to be awake during the surgery. She didn’t tell me this, I could just sense it. Again, I think the MMC midwives would have realized that baby had turned face up much sooner and they would have helped me change positions and do things differently to get baby to flip; this is what midwives do.
Mary pretty much said we had some two choices, an epidural or c-section. I chose epidural, Josh tried to rally for what we originally wanted and he kept saying that I had only been in labor for 18 hours, sometimes labor takes days, we know this, we expected this, and tried to get me to continue naturally. But I knew something wasn’t right, my premonitions in the past several days had all been pretty accurate and I knew this was what needed to happen to give me the best shot at delivering vaginally. Josh continued to try to sway me into our original birth plan, but Mary came over and told me that it was my decision, not his. I knew that Josh didn’t like that, but he just was trying to keep me on track with the wishes I chose for labor, I told him ‘something is not right inside of me, I need this to relax and maybe still have the vaginal delivery we wanted. I felt like the intervention was for the right reasons, as we had learned in childbirth class; maternal exhaustion is a reason to get an epidural so that a vaginal delivery can happen. I sort of tried to remind him of this, and I think he understood.
They called the anesthiologist, who took for-freaking-ever to get there and put the epidural in, and even while we were waiting, my back labor picked up in intensity and babe’s heart rate variability continued to decrease. The epidural didn’t actually help me very much and took forever to kick in; then babe’s heart rate really took a dip (I questioned if we had done the right thing) and suddenly all the staff were talking c-section, safety of baby, etc. etc. I asked Josh to call Cassie again and she said this is what needed to be done, we got on speaker phone with her, I could hear the sadness in her voice for me, but it’s what needed to happen. Babe was telling us it wasn’t handling things, it had told us that from the meconium being in the water, it probably wasn’t the epidural that caused it, babe was in some distress all day long and was handling it but it was becoming too much.

I had also felt things were not right before the epidural, I felt funny and knew something had changed. So we proceeded to an emergency c-section. This was the last thing I wanted, I cried for the birth that I didn’t get to have, I cried for the loss of not being able to push this babe out of me, and I cried because she was going to be born under harsh lights, and be yanked from my body, no delayed cord clamping, no skin to skin, all of our wishes for this birth were gone and I was devastated.  At that point, I almost thought that our c-section became inevitable when I was transferred to the hospital and induced, if labor had progressed naturally, maybe all of this wouldn’t have happened? I mourned for the birth I wanted, not just because I wanted that birth, but because I was about to be cut open and the baby was going to be yanked out of me. Why did I have to have my BP checked that day, why didn’t I just turn in the pee jug and go home?

I cursed myself and my decisions that day, and I was very upset that even though I had 2 high BP’s, my BP in labor was normal, and I could have stayed at MMC for delivery. I was later told that the high BP’s were probably from nerves, my labs were all fine and my BP in labor was very good. This did not make me happy, just grief stricken.
Things happened very fast then, a nurse anesthetist came in and gave me more spinal anesthesia to numb me up to my shoulders; which actually caused me major pain in my shoulder blades (I still have the pain as I type this), I kept asking why it hurt so bad and never really got an answer, baby needed to come out and my shoulder pain wasn’t important. I remember her saying that this was going to be a big baby; we were going to be surprised at how big she would be. I wondered about that, but I didn’t think she was right.
Josh was scared, I could see it in his face, and he was sad and worried and scared; trying to cope. Thank goodness we had Ann there with us, she packed up all of our belongings and helped calm Josh and myself; she was actually able to be in the room with us during delivery, which was helpful to me because I wanted Josh to be with the baby. They wheeled me into the room. I wanted him next to me during the c-section, but he really couldn’t be because he was told to stand on my right side and I couldn’t turn to the right because I was shaking uncontrollably from the medication and I could only look to the left for some reason. I wanted to see his face, but could not turn my head; I stared to my left, watching my arm shake and looking up at the ceiling at the stupid light pictures they put up there to try to calm you and give you something to look at. They weren’t working, I thought.
They asked me if I could feel sharpness when I was poked, I could not, and the surgery started, Dr. Hall was the surgeon and I had met him briefly before being wheeled into the surgery. I could feel tugging and pulling, but it wasn’t actually as bad as I had expected and in a few minutes baby was out. Josh said; “it’s a girl, she is so beautiful, she is so beautiful….over and over.” I wanted to see her, but no-one brought her to me, Josh said he was going with her and Ann stood next to me. I think she told me they were sucking blood out of her lungs, later Josh told me it was a lot of blood that came out, and that is why she was so distressed. She was wailing though! I cried hearing her cries and wished I could see her, it felt like eternity waiting. I asked if she had hair, someone told me she had a little (she has a LOT). Eventually Josh came back with her and put her on my chest, he was crying, I was crying, she was so pretty. My hands were numb and I couldn’t really hold her, but I could feel her on me. I stared into her eyes, and she cried and cried. I cried too, we both cried for the way she was yanked out of me, she didn’t like it and neither did I! But she was here, she was safe and she was a girl!

I said her name was Magnolia Grace, but I wasn’t sure about the ‘Grace’ (we chose Gwen as a middle name later, Grace was not suited for her, she was too strong willed). Also, Gwen was a family name and I wanted part of my family in her name.
We were wheeled into the recovery room and Josh went with Magnolia while Ann stayed with me and then went to get our stuff situated in our room. I could see Josh was annoyed with the nurse who was trying to do testing on Magnolia, she was telling him the baby needed formula, Josh was saying, ‘she was just born, you didn’t even give her a chance to breastfeed,’ the nurse told us we were risking brain damage (c’mon lady, she is 15 minutes old) and he refused the formula and practically took Magnolia from the nurse and brought her to me. We tried to breastfeed, she latched on some, but was wailing still, and I didn’t blame her, it was a crazy experience and not the birth we had ever wanted for her.

I was doing skin to skin with her but my hands were numb and I couldn’t hold her; so Josh took off his shirt and did skin to skin with her in the recover y room. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, my husband sitting there with our daughter on his bare chest, my heart took a picture and I will never forget it. I kept telling him I loved him, we kissed, I kept saying that I had never seen anything more sweet in my life and he kept saying how proud he was of me. It was a beautiful moment, but I was so out of it and tired, I kept falling asleep and then waking up.
Later, I talked to Dr. Hall and asked about why baby couldn’t come out and he said that my pelvis was too small, that I couldn’t have a VBAC and if I were to have another baby I’d need a c-section. He said baby was sunny side up and her head wasn’t fitting through my pelvis. She had a tiny bit of cone head (6cm worth) from trying to fit through my cervix. This news is pretty devastating to me; not only was I not ever able to go back to the MMC midwives, but I was a c-section mama, a mama who maybe can’t even have a VBAC, and I am still grieving this loss. Later I talked to Mary who didn’t completely agree with what Dr. Hall said and she gave me some reassurance that maybe I could have a VBAC, she said she has only ever told 1 mother that a c-section was inevitable and she wasn’t going to say that to me now because she didn’t agree. This helped me feel somewhat better, but I still grieve the loss of never walking through the MMC doors as a woman in labor, and maybe never pushing a babe out of me. I loved my experience at MMC despite the issues with the transfer and it makes me so sad that I cannot go back there for my next birth; but maybe by the time I am pregnant again they will do VBAC’s there; I can hope right? The next day MMC midwife Laura came to our recovery room (I hadn’t expected to see her at all) and we talked a little about the transfer and c-section. I mentioned writing my birth story and she reminded me that 10-11% of all of their patients get transferred to the hospital, and this is what a transfer looks like and feels like, it’s a good story to hear. I liked that she said that, it helped me a lot. She also told me another mama got transferred and was on this floor as well, even though I didn’t know who it was, my heart went out to her and I hoped she was doing alright.
Now that birth is over, you will never hear me say that even though this was not the birth we planned, mom and babe are safe and that’s all that matters, because it’s NOT all that matters. A mothers birthing day matters and stays with her for the rest of her life, ask any mother and she can recount minute details of her birth, my mom 32 years later can tell you every detail of my birth. But the outcome is a good outcome, Magnolia Gwen Mason is here, she weighed 7lbs

7.4oz and was 20.5 inches long; she was born 1:33am on 11/5/11 at Swedish Hospital via C-section. She is beautiful with a full head of hair and we love her so much.


  1. thanks for sharing Jennifer. I applaud your ability to put it all down in words. I know you mourn that experience you so desperately wanted and I am bummed for you but so happy you two are safe and well! If I could write at all I would say so much more :) XOXOXo HUGS to your beautiful family! p.s.....what is "sweeping your membranes" ??? never heard of that before, and am totally lost! Love, Val

  2. Hi Jen. So glad to know you are all doing all right now and I am sorry your birth expei think you have to remember a lot of what birthing centers, doctors and rience isn't what you had dreamed and hoped for. I think you have to keep in mind that birthing centers , OB-GYNS, midwifes are have huge liability insurance. Not only do they have to keep a mother safe, they have to keep the babies safe too. This is because of society and that so many people are sue happy. If something happens to the baby and they didn't arrange that transfer sooner, they could be found liable. And it is sad, but reality. I too wasn't expecting a c-section with Morgan but with my platelet condition it was the safest option especially since I was not progressing in labor and she was not tolerating labor either. With Nick, I ended up with the same platelet problem and very early on learned that I would have to have another c-section, again for safety. I just accepted it. What mattered to me was that I have too beautiful healthy children. I will never forget what happened during my deleveries, but when I look at them, I know that all of my struggles and pain were worth it. I hope that you are able to try for a VBAC the next time around, because those are your hopes and dreams. Get second opinions, stay hopeful and positive, and cherish every moment with your beautiful daughter. Also, I will add I agree that having a child takes the love you have with your husband to a whole new level. We get to see them in a new light, its amazing!

  3. My starting sentence did not go through. It said I am sorry your birth plan did not go as you dreamed it would.

  4. Val, sweeping membranes is when the care provider goes up and tries to manually detach the bag of water from your cervical wall. It is one natural way to start labor. It hurts, but not as bad as I had heard that it did.

    Crystal, thanks for posting, its rough when things change; at least with Nick you had some warning ahead of time though. I do realize all facilities have protocol they have to follow, but it wasn't handled the way it maybe should have been; unfortunately. Sometimes I think the transfer made the c-section inevitable, but of course I will never really know that.

  5. Oh write so beautifully! I felt like I was there with you through the entire delivery. I was crying along with you as I read this. I am sorry for your loss of the birth you wanted to give to Magnolia. But you are right, she is absolutely beautiful! Please let Josh know that I am just soooo happy for the two of you! Take care! SueAnn

  6. Dear Jenn,

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your story so fully, in such a raw way. I hope many mamas will read it and take encouragement from it. You have the heart of a lion - courageous - from the French "coeur" - meaning heart - having heart - being willing to do whatever it takes even if you are afraid. You were so unbelievably strong and amazing. I know. I was honored to get to be there with you. I am very much looking forward to seeing you and your new family. Magnolia Gwen looks SO beautiful - and so do you.

  7. Thank you for sharing your birth story! I cried with you and am so very proud of you :) I am also so grateful you have such an amazing husband that stood up for what you wanted and wouldn't take no for an answer. What amazing parents.

    I love you and am so happy to see Magnolia Gwen's face finally enter this world. She has already made it a better place.


  8. Wow! Thank you so much for writing this all down! It's a great help to me, to those who read it, and probably great for you, too. I heard a lot of strength and solid thinking throughout your story and man-o-MAN were you brave when things got nuttiest. WOW!
    Keep up the writing... it's done me wonders for my own birthing/breastfeeding/parenting experience!
    Thanks, Mary

  9. So glad that your baby is here. She is beautiful. I am sad for you that you didn't get the birth you hoped for. I delivered on 11/11/11 and didn't end up with the birth I had wished for, but not quite as dramatic as yours. I will be thinking about you as you recover physically and emotionally.

  10. Cheree, I am sorry to hear that :( I will pop over to your blog and read about it. What a cool birthday for a kid though!!!