Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Isaiah's Birth Story

We moved to California when I was nearly eight months pregnant with Isaiah. I don't recommend moving when you are that far along.

Friday, July 29, 2011. We had been living at Brett's parents' house for a few weeks. Isla and I were home alone that day. Glenn and Brett were at work, my parents were at work, Susan was in Utah waiting for Eli to come. I was meeting friends from high school (Jenny Bisquera and Missy Suarez) to take a morning walk to chat and get some exercise. The walk was, ironically, to a donut shop. Anyhow, it was fun to reconnect. While we were there we ran into Troy Werner. He was working across the street.

When Isla and I got home I noticed some "bloody show." I'd like to know who came up with some of our crazy medical terminology - bloody show, ballottable, and zygote are some of my favorites. Knowing that seeing this meant next to nothing, Isla and I went about our day. My due date wasn't for another week and a half, and since Isla came at 39 weeks and 5 days, I thought I was safe in assuming that nothing was happening.

I had contractions the whole day. They would get a little uncomfortable at times but not so much that I couldn't function. Their frequency, duration and intensity was all over the place. At times they would last for 30 seconds, two minutes apart, and pretty weak. Other times they were strong, would last six or seven minutes with a half-hour in between. Still other times I would have a few really strong ones that made me stop what I was doing. I let my doula, Terri-Leigh, know but, again, I tried to down-play everything in my head. I suppose it was a combination of not wanting to get over excited (last time I had been up around 36 hours straight because I had been too excited to sleep) and really wanting to go to the Dodger game that night. And before you want to high-five me because you love the Dodgers or punch me because you love the Giants, I really am a neutral entity when it comes to baseball. Maybe neutral isn't the word. I could not care less about baseball. We did, however, have tickets to the dugout club, which means private VIP everything, free fancy-person dinner, schmuckety-schmucking with rich men and glamour ladies, sitting behind home plate, celebrity watching, and having interns bring soft serve and Cracker-Jacks to your seat without having to tip them. So yeah, I really wanted to make it to the game.

I wanted to make it there so badly that when my mom came to pick us up to go to the game, I didn't tell her I was in labor until we were almost to the Stadium Way exit. I didn't want her to turn around and make me stew at home and become overly anxious. By that time, my contractions were still placed sporadically but they were strong and I knew that baby was moving, or at least getting a good deep-tissue massage.

Well, dinner was awesome, thank you for asking. Lasorda did not make an appearance to touch my shoulder like last time but it was still worth the trip. The stadium was beautiful and I suppose the game was good. I don't remember because I was either busy breathing my way through contractions or stuffing my face with ice cream. Around the 6th inning I told Brett that we really ought to go. Thankfully my parents were there and we were able to leave Isla with them overnight. We made it home and the ride was ok at first, then somewhere halfway things started getting real. It was then that I was thankful for all the books I had read and the labor management tricks I had picked up from research and from my doula. I suppose I should have mentioned before that our goal was a natural, needless-medical-intervention-free labor and birth. I won't go too into why we wanted that but we both feel very strongly about it and perhaps that will be the subject of a later post. Didn't know I was so granola, did you?

Ok, back to the story. We got back to Canyon Country around 11 pm. The next few hours are a bit blurry. I was having my contractions and laboring through them instinctively. I kneeled over chairs mostly during contractions and then sat back on my heels to rest in between. The experience was unlike anything in my life up to that point. This may surprise you since this was my second baby. It is hard for me to describe adequately. The first time I felt excited and impatient, my contractions hurt a lot but then I had a wonderful epidural that made the pain go away. I slept a lot, then got on my back and pushed a few times and Isla was born. It was a very happy, exciting, spiritual time. This time it was exciting, and spiritual, but in a different way. Instead of running from the pain of the contractions, I embraced it. I was able to relax and feel every sensation to the fullest. And strangely enough I was able to distinguish between pressure and different types of pain. I fully felt the relief between contractions. I was unaware of what was happening outside my body but I was completely in tune with what was happening inside of it. It was a wonderful, primal, rich experience, laboring with my baby. And although I'm sure it hurt, I don't remember it as insanely painful (not until the last hour or so). It was intense. But it is different than hurting yourself and feeling pain. It was life-giving pain and that made it easier, even a joy, to bear.

Anyhow, sometime around midnight, my water broke. And even though I just got finished telling you how "in tune" I felt, I still wasn't in a hurry to get to the hospital. I just thought I had more time because of the way things went the first time around. Plus the whole natural labor thing made me want to avoid going to the hospital earlier than I needed to. Truth be told, if I could afford it, I would have liked to deliver at home or at a birthing center. (I can hear some of you gasping or guffawing as I type this). Funny that the way insurance worked out it the only option we could afford was delivering at Kaiser. I'll take it without too much complaint.

We rounded up our bags and headed over. We called our doula to meet us at the hospital. Boy should I have called her earlier. I could have had her help in Canyon Country and probably would have loved my experience even more. Next time. Terri-Leigh met us at the curb and she walked me up while Brett parked the car. Thank goodness she did. I was feeling a lot of pressure and the urge to bear down was inescapable. I feel like it was harder to resist the urge to push than it was to experience the pains of labor. When we got to the floor the clerk kept asking me ridiculous questions like, who are you, where do you live, why are you here? Is that not what pre-registering is for? C'mon ladies, I am having a baby here. They finally just admit me, there are nurses getting my room ready and helping me change into a gown. They ask me for a urine sample. I sit on the toilet for what seems like forever and I just can't pee into that stupid cup. At this point in typing Brett interjects that the entire time I am yelling things like "I can't do this," and "it's too hard," and "forget it give me drugs." This tips off the nurse, she gets me on the bed, looks down and tells me I have already "done it." She yells for a doc, tells me to stop pushing but I just can't. I push, she catches the baby, and Isaiah is born. It's not exactly the calm environment I was planning for him, a loud hospital room, me yelling, nurses yelling and scrambling about. But it is a pretty good story and it was fun anyhow.

Finally the doctor gets there just in time to yank out the placenta instead of letting it come out by itself. Forgive me if at this point in the story I start to sound like a bitter, doctor hater. I'm not. I'm thankful for docs and all the training they have. They save lives, they are awesome. BUT, I am weary of OBs because they train for disasters, not natural, uncomplicated births. And the only bitter part about Isaiah's birth story is that the doc came in, yanked out the placenta, it came out in pieces and he had to get all up in my business to try and remove the pieces that were still inside. They gave me a shot of pit in the thigh. That's all fine, nothing bad happened, what's done is done. But why do OBs have to keep giving me reasons to avoid them? Hopefully next time that doctor won't be around. Are you starting to at least see where I am coming from when I try to avoid medical intervention for an uncomplicated pregnancy, labor and birth?

Anyway, Isaiah was a beautiful, round, calm, sweet newborn baby. Laboring with him and delivering him was a wonderful, rich experience.

Isaiah was born in Panorama City, CA on July 30, 2011, at 3:03 am, 18 minutes after Brett and I arrived at the hospital.

Terri-Leigh Huleis and Brett were there for the delivery. My nurse, Sonya, caught the baby.

He was 6 lb 15 oz and 20 inches long.

He had a full head of dark brown hair and his eyes were a beautiful green/blue/brown color.

I ended gaining only 40 lb this time. Brett, on the other hand, gained 15 lb, which he still has to this day. I think he wears it well.

Me with my doula, Terri-Leigh. Check her out at doulala.org. 


  1. Glad to see you guys have a blog now.

    I had such a similar experience with my babies births! I like natural non-intervention births too, so I don't think you're crazy at all. The first time I had to be induced which was He** on earth, and it wasn't until I did it my second baby that I went into labor on my own that I can completely attest to how much worse the drugs make the contractions.

    I really wish I could go to a birthing center too, but unfortunately they do not exist where we are now living (Newfoundland) and Midwives are against the law. Completely crazy, eh?

    I think your birth stories are hilarious though (not the pain parts, the going to walmart for snacks, and going to a baseball game parts). Cute babies!

    1. Taralee, so great to hear from you! How is it in Newfoundland?

      That is truly crazy about not having midwives there. That is really too bad.

      Do you have a family blog? I'd like to see what I have missed out on all this time!

  2. 1) I love that you have a blog now. I'd wonder about you guys from time to time and I feel like we're catching up.

    2) I love that you blogged about this. I'm deciding what kind of birth I'd like for this current pregnancy. Do you have any book recommendations for non-interventional births? Any good pain-management tips?

    1. Katie! First off, we think about you guys often and I blog stalk your family occasionally. I love your blog - great pictures and commentary, cute little boys. Second, congrats on the pregnancy.

      So I read four books while I was pregnant. They are out on loan right now so I hope I get the titles right from memory: Active Birth, Birthing From Within, Husband-Coached Childbirth, and The Birth Partner. The first two were my favorites and when things got real on labor day, I used techniques from those books. Husband-Coached Childbirth is a book about the Bradley Method. I took the good parts and ignored the parts I didn't like or parts that were pretty outdated. For example, I liked the part about being calm, but didn't like the part about lying still on your side and looking like you are asleep. It just didn't end up working for me. The Birth Partner is really for whomever is going to be with you as you deliver. It is neat because it has a chart of moves for your husband, like where to massage you, etc. Honestly, Brett didn't really read the whole thing but it was all fine anyway.

      So my recommendations: 1) Do as much research as you have time for, but don't forget to trust in yourself and trust in your body. Your body was built to make and pop out babies, it knows what to do. And people give you tons of advice but in the end you have to go with your gut, with your own wisdom, and with what the Holy Ghost tells you. I find this true well past labor and delivery - I guess it REALLY applies with parenting.
      2) Practice, practice, practice. I liked Birthing From Within because it teaches you a technique and then suggests how you can practice it before the big day.
      3) Know what you want but be flexible. I had these grand plans of using the squatting bar and not pushing on my back and being peaceful as I labored and all that gorgeous stuff. When it came to the day of, I didn't even use my doula to her full capacity, I got in the hospital and in a crab-walk stance I pushed the baby out onto the bed. It was still awesome but it was different than the birth plan for sure.

      So yes, those are my feelings on the subject. And yeah I guess a general disclaimer on all the books and research out there - some of it looks and sounds totally nuts. Some of my favorite nuttiness, for example, is that it seemed like everyone pictured in Active Birth seemed to be either naked or clothed as little as possible. I'm talking about the laboring women AND their partners. The dudes were all wearing speedos like it was a Euro beach party. So funny. A lot of it though, all the good stuff, is backed by research.

      Well, I will cut myself off because I have the tendency to ramble...Good luck, if you have any more questions you can e-mail me! I love talking about this stuff...