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my first birth experience

June 13, 2011

Thinking about my new baby’s impending birth has made me reflect on the birth of my first born.  I love reading birth stories but have never written my own so I thought I would write a proper birth story, at least as I remember it four years later.

Throughout my pregnancy I read as many birth stories as I could (I especially loved Ina May Gaskin’s books) and watched tons of birthing shows on TV. I wanted to be as well informed as possible. I hired a doula in hopes that I would succeed in the natural birth I was determined to have. Overall I felt very confident and excited to give birth, almost fearless.

My last day of work was about a week and half before my due date. My job at that time was much more physical than my current position and I was lucky to be able to keep up with my standard activities without any pain or discomfort. I felt as though I could continue to work, but was looking forward to a little time to prepare for the baby and pamper myself. I had a massage scheduled for Monday, the first official day of my maternity leave.

At my 38 week appointment I was 2-3 cm, almost fully effaced, and the head was “right there.” I was excited about the progress, but none the less prepared to go past my due date as many first time mothers do. We had bought a car seat but it was still sitting in the box. I was trying to avoid the anxious misery I had seen so many other pregnant women endure at the end of their pregnancies.

After my last day of work, I felt great and amazingly calm throughout the weekend. My husband and I spent a lot of quality time together and nice weather allowed us to take some long walks around town. Sunday night I did not sleep very well. When I dragged myself out of bed on Monday morning I ate breakfast and took my dog for a 2.5 mile walk. After the walk I ran out to grab a couple essentials at the health food store and cards to write thank-you notes for my work shower.

While I was paying for the thank-you cards I felt a gush and thought to myself that it could have been my water breaking. I calmly drove home. Looking back I am amazed how I was able to stay so relaxed. When I got home I checked out the situation and changed, then immediately had another gush. I felt confident that it was my water at that point, and called my husband. I told him that “I thought I was leaking” and he immediately said “I’ll be right home.” After I hung up with him I called my doctor’s office who told me to come right in. When my husband got home we got our hospital bags, took the car seat out of the box, and put everything in the trunk.

The doctor confirmed that it was certainly my water breaking and sent me on to the hospital. On the way to the hospital I felt no contraction but did begin to get a little nervous. I cancelled my massage appointment and texted a few close friends and family to let them know my water broke and I was on my way to have a baby!

At the hospital the midwife hooked me up to see if I was having contractions and started an IV of antibiotics since I had tested positive for Group B strep. My husband called the doula, who was seemingly annoyed that we were already at the hospital, and told us to call her again in a while. I was pretty upset with her reaction and told my husband I wasn’t even sure I wanted her to be at the birth. The nurse (who was incredibly awesome) asked me what my plans were for pain, and I told her I wanted to avoid pain medication. She immediately said “No problem, I won’t ask again. If you change your mind, let me know.”

I was having some contractions but I was not feeling anything. We walked around for a while and watched TV. After the antibiotics were finished they started me on Pitocin. I had wanted to avoid Pitocin but went along with the recommendation.

Even with the Pitocin I wasn’t feeling much pain, the contractions were like mild menstrual cramps. I was checked and was at 5 cm. The Pitocin was increased and a while later my doctor said she was going to break my last pocket of waters. After that, the pain really started.

Matt called the doula when he saw me in much more pain. She was again sort of snarky and assumed that I had gotten an epidural, which I had not. Anyhow, she said she would be there soon.

While it was a long time ago now, I clearly remember relishing in the moments between contractions. The doctor and nurse were amazed that I was still laughing and smiling in between contractions. Matt loved the monitor, so he could be prepared to give me support as soon as a contraction started. I really wanted to lie on my side. My doctor kept trying to get me to move since the baby was having some decelerations, but I kept turning back to my comfortable position.

When the doula got there she asked if I brought food to “sneak” and tried to get me to get out of bed but honestly I didn’t want to do either. I was content on my side with ice chips.

A little while later I felt like I had to pee and Matt came with me. There was some blood when I peed, and the nurse and doula said that was a good sign. I went back and forth between lying on my side and the bathroom for a while. During one trip to the bathroom I told my husband that I didn’t know if I could do it without pain medication.  When I came back out the doula made her biggest contribution by repeating “as soon as you feel like you can’t do it anymore, it’s almost over.” It really was exactly what I needed to hear.

About three hours after the major pain started the doctor came in and said she wanted to check me again. I was almost complete! She told me to push a little on my next contraction to open up that last lip of cervix. The nurse started preparing for deliver and asked the doctor if she wanted the lights turned up. The doctor immediately told her to leave them low.

The doctor told me to start pushing when I felt contractions and I became so focused on the pushing process I stopped feeling contractions. I don’t remember how long I pushed for but I think it was less than 15 minutes until I heard the sweet sound of my baby boy. I exclaimed “I feel so much better now!” My boy was small (5lbs 7 oz) but absolutely perfect. The hubs cut the cord and then the babe was put back on my chest. The doula took a bunch of pictures with my camera and said goodbye. The doctor encouraged me to try nursing, and after a couple moments of finding his way my new son was nursing like a champ.  The nurse told me I did a great job and told me to call her when I decided to do it again, she’d like to be there. J

My husband was the only male in the room throughout my labor and delivery. My young female ob had most recently given birth only six months before, and the nurse and doula had multiple children as well. I was very lucky to have a wonderful medical team. I felt great after the birth; I had a tiny tear that did not even require stitches. I was offered motrin but refused and laughed that I certainly did not need anything for pain at that point.

I don’t remember delivering the placenta but I remember the doctor pushing on my stomach a lot. Unfortunately I ended up hemorrhaging a couple weeks later due to retained placenta and had an emergency d & c and ended up with second degree anemia from the blood loss.

Overall I had a good first birth experience. The post-partum hemorrhage was scary and left me extremely exhausted while caring for my newborn. I also wonder how the pain would have been different without pitocin or having that last pocket of water broken, and how much longer my labor would have been without any interventions.

This time around, I am more fearful than I was the first time, though I am hoping to conquer my fear through rereading my birth books and meditation. I am hoping to avoid all interventions this time and plan to pay more attention to the placenta delivery. I have toyed with the idea of switching practices so that I can be guaranteed that a female midwife will attend my birth. I love the two female doctors at my current practice but there is no guarantee that one of them will deliver me. The male doctors are plenty nice but I don’t think I would have the same sense of comfort and support with them at my birth.

The hospital I delivered at last time has an excellent children’s hospital, so I know I am committed to delivering there again, since everyone’s health is my first priority. There are no hospital-connected or freestanding birth centers near me, and I live too far away from a hospital to be comfortable with a home birth.

At this point I don’t think I’ll hire a doula but am not sure. I wish I knew a doula personally who I was already somewhat connected to. While my doula made some great contributions last time, I did not feel like she was an essential part of the process. However if I stick with my current practice, I may end up with a male doctor and a male nurse, in which case I may want someone who’s been there and done that in the room with me. Of course I don’t know that a male birth team would be different or worse, but I do know that I was grateful for my all female team last time.

If you made it through all of that I applaud you! If you’ve given birth, what would you do the same or differently?


my current favorite smoothie

June 12, 2011

We had a heat wave last week that resulted in smoothie breakfasts everyday. My favorite creation was a refreshing Blueberry-Cucumber smoothie.

Blueberry-Cucumber Smoothie

  • frozen banana
  • blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • cucumber
  • hemp seeds
  • almond milk
  • filtered water
  • protein powder (optional)

For a morning smoothie, the banana, almond milk, protein powder, and hemp seeds make this a delicious morning meal. Blueberries, cucumber, ice, and water alone make a wonderful slushy afternoon beverage. Since I won’t be drinking alcohol this summer, I am compiling a list of fun non-alcoholic alternatives.

What are your favorite non-alcoholic beverages?

Coming to posts this week: a new-to-me leafy green that came in our first CSA box, meal style nachos, my birth story from my first, and yoga during pregnancy.

things that make me smile

June 9, 2011

It’s been a while, but I think I am ready to jump back into blogging with both feet.

I have a lot of food, yoga, and mommy things to blog about but I thought I’d make my first post back a list of the things that have been making me smile lately.

  1. Warm weather. I live in New England, yet I classify a “nice day” as one over 75 degrees. I cherish the few months of the year that are filled with nice days.
  2.  Vegan cesar salads with the Living Cesar dressing from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan. I use sesame seeds instead of pine nuts and am hoping the husband doesn’t get sick of salad anytime soon.
  3. Pink Peonies. My wedding flower. Picked from my favorite plant in our yard.
  4. Watching the boy play. Before becoming a parent I never thought a child would actually play with that many little cars and trucks, but each of those mini-vehicles has reached high-mileage status.
  5. Homemade Passion Iced-Tea. My favorite summer beverage.
  6. Pigeon Pose. There is nothing like a good hip opener. 
  7. Baby kicks. Baby kicks make me smile and remind me that this brief hiatus from hot yoga and wine is totally worth it. 😉

What’s been making you smile lately?

what i’m loving lately

January 16, 2011

I love reading other blogger’s “What I’m loving now” posts, so I thought I’d write my own. Here are some of the things I’ve been loving lately.

1)      My pavrita pants. I try to limit my shopping for frivolous items but as soon as I saw them on the Anthropologie website there was no looking back.

2)      My mala beads. A lovely etsy birthday gift from my boys.

3)      Yoga. I have been especially loving practicing lately.

picture and mat are from

4)      Shoveling snow. It forces me to be outside in the winter, which I always appreciate after the fact.

5)      My stove. We remodeled our kitchen almost 2 years ago and were given this last piece as a generous Christmas gift. Just looking at my kitchen makes me happy. 🙂

6)      School. It can be stressful and makes my life even crazier than it already is, but I am thrilled to be following my dreams.

What are you loving lately?


January 9, 2011



Fresh snow, comfy pants, yummy food, my favorite guys. I love Sundays. Hope you had a great weekend!

not just a drying rack

January 8, 2011

My husband got out of bed before I did yesterday, which never ever ever happens. I figured he was just getting water. But then I heard the familiar beeping of the elliptical. I went downstairs and looked at him funny. After his turn I hopped on with my school book in hand (trimesters don’t leave nearly enough time for a proper winter break by the way).

Matt had set the elliptical to a resistance program so I just rolled with it. I started out fine, happily reading away. The machine beeped increasing the resistance after only two minutes, and I figured I was going to get a better work out than usual. But then it happened again, and again. Eventually I had to put my book down.

Recently the elliptical has been my reading corner/yoga mat drying rack (fyi: the handles are a great place to hang yoga mats to dry quickly after washing). Apparently I can get a pretty good workout on it too.

And apparently Matt is in better shape than I thought. Despite the lack of exercise in his life in the past couple months, he barely broke a sweat on the same program that had me huffing and puffing. Maybe because of his larger muscle mass?  Maybe because he runs around an industrial kitchen like a 3-year old mad man eleven hours a day while I sit at a desk?


January 5, 2011

I was hoping to blog more about some of the holiday treats I made, and even took pictures on several occasions. But, alas, I got lost in the wonder of the holiday season with a three year old  . . . which is a totally wonderful thing by the way.

Vegan pancakes with dried cranberries, mini-chocolate chips, and coconut are also a wonderful thing. But I digress.

So here we are in January. A new year has begun and with that brings a lot of talk about change, resolutions, goals, and intentions. Making these things happen is exciting, challenging, and scary. I know that I personally have missed opportunities for change because I let fear overcome that excitement.

So this year, I intend to let go of fear. I intend to follow my heart and embrace change and challenge, without letting fear get in the way.  I am, however, not crazy enough to think that fear will suddenly be non-existent in my psyche. Instead my intention is to be conscious of the fear that gets in my way, and to stop myself from choosing stability every time I have the opportunity for change.

I have a few major things I would like to accomplish in 2011. And I’ll definitely get into details later. For now, I commit myself to taking a leap of faith this year.

What are you committing to in 2011?