Our Firstborn: Ruby's Birth Center Story

Our Firstborn: Ruby’s Birth Center Story

Ruby Lynn Maaser

Born: Friday, 8-28-09

     Time: 2:52 a.m.

Measurements: 7 lbs 3 0z, 22 inches, 14 cm head circumference

The Pregnancy Story

After having been married for five years, Scott and I knew that we were ready for the next step. We didn’t quite say, let’s have a baby, but we did say, “Let’s go off birth control”. I was sick of all the side effects anyways and I thought that we’d be able to give natural family planning a try until we were really ready for a baby. Well a few weeks later, we were snowboarding up in the mountains, like we did every weekend in the winter, and in the midst of a huge blizzard. Fortunately, we had already booked a room for the night at the Keystone Inn, our favorite place to stay at in the mountains. They were super close to the slopes and had an indoor/outdoor heated pool, hotub, sauna, and were next to our favorite little pizza place.

We had a wonderful day snowboarding and an incredibly romantic evening. We didn’t use any protection, but I assured Scott that I would just get the morning after pill the next day. (How’s that for natural family planning?) Well, the next day came and we were shocked to see that the all of the highways were shut down because of the horrible blizzard. I had to call in some emergency sub plans for my 3rd grade class and of course, no morning after pill. We stayed another night at our hotel and the next day I did get the morning after pill, and even though I took the first pill, I forgot to take the second pill 8 hours later like I was supposed too. Well, it didn’t work apparently, and after I missed my period, I saw those infamous two pink lines on the pregnancy test. We were both shocked and elated. We weren’t sure we were quite ready for a baby, but whether we were ready or not, it was coming!

Positive Pregnancy Test

Positive Pregnancy Test

We found an ob office right away and started going to prenatal appointments. As the pregnancy progressed, we learned more and more about our impending life change. I read all of the books I could get my hands on and we took every class that the hospital offered. I was eating right, doing yoga, and Scott regularly gave me some incredible pregnancy massages. By the time I was 30-some weeks along, we took a tour of the hospital and that is when everything changed for us. The hospital had plans to tear down that maternity ward and building a new state of the art facility the next year, so needless to say the place looked like it was falling apart. When we saw a moth flying down the hallway, we took that as an omen to look at other options! Besides, the idea I had in mind for a natural birth did not seem to fit with the small hospital bed, no eating or drinking policy, and large scale focus on interventions.

Hanging Out in My Classroom

Hanging Out in My Classroom

The next day I discovered a free standing birth center that was right next to a state of the art hospital 20 minutes from our condo. We weren’t quite ready for a home birth, but this birth center seemed like just the right thing. My mom had given birth to her last three children at home, and I remember helping to cut the cords and being right three with her. But even still, with this being my first, I was a little nervous about any possible complications. The rooms at the Mountain Midwifery were beautiful, the staff was amazing, and everything about the facility made me feel empowered. We transferred when I was 33 weeks, so we barely got a chance to meet all of the six midwives who could possibly attend our birth depending on who was on call. Even still, I felt such peace and comfort and really felt like we were making the right decision. We signed up for as many classes as we could and continued to become educated. After watching Rikki Lake’s The Business of Being Born, I felt more empowered than ever.

My Big Pregnant Belly

My Big Pregnant Belly

Leading up to Labor

My due date was August 22nd, but I was sure that I would have our baby on either a full moon or a new moon. The doctors at the hospital had said that more babies were born on a full moon, and the midwives at the midwifery said that they had more births on a new moon. August 6th was a full moon and sure enough, I started having contractions after meeting some coworkers at Baker’s Street. It was, however, a false alarm. Next, I was sure that I would go into labor on the new moon which was August 20th, but alas…nothing.

Scott and I went for lots of walks and I was drinking tea with blue cohash to try to encourage labor to start. I was just sooooo excited! After nine months of waiting, I really wanted to meet my little girl! Every time labor would seemingly start though, I would get really scared thinking about the unknown and secretly breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I had a little bit more time to prepare. I was just worried that I would be over two weeks overdue which would risk me out of delivering at the birthing center and make it so that I would have to be induced, have an epidural, and basically have my birth plan thrown out the window.

Prelabor: Wednesday, August 26th

With my due date come and gone by four days, I was in a constant state of expectation. At my last midwife appointment, I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced, so things were happening. Knowing that labor could start at any minute of any day really kept me on my toes. I was kind of hoping that labor would start during the meetings before school so that I could miss them and wouldn’t have to start the school year, but it was actually quite a blessing that I was able to be in the classroom for a few days because I was able to help start a lot of my routines and get to know the students.

Anyways, the night before, Tuesday, August 25th, Scott and I went for a nice long walk, made love, and then I lost my mucus plug. (I thought I lost it earlier in the week, but I guess that was just a little bit of blood.) I knew things would be happening soon! I went to work Wednesday morning full of excitement and proudly telling the ladies about my bloody show! (Ahhhh, it’s great to work with women sometimes!) I started feeling contractions that morning. They weren’t really painful or close together, but they were definitely regular.

I just couldn’t concentrate any more, and I definitely didn’t feel like teaching! Rochelle got me a big bouncy ball to sit on and I basically just sat in the back of the room organizing papers while my replacement started taking over the class. (I had found an incredible sub named Misty who went to all of the beginning of the year meetings with me and co-taught with me in the classroom. I was planning taking 12 weeks of maternity leave, so she wanted to be prepared. My principal was just wonderful and paid for the sub to be with me until I officially started my maternity leave.) Everyone kept telling me to go home! I was worried that I couldn’t leave until I was definitely in labor, so I called the maternity leave office and she asked why I was still at work! I learned that I could have started my maternity leave one week before my due date! So I decided that I was going to leave at lunch. I really wanted to use as much maternity leave as possible to be with my daughter, so I wanted to work as long as I possibly could, but I figured that I was close enough at this point!

I called Scott telling him that I was going home to rest and not to worry or leave work early. I went shopping at King Soopers for some last minute groceries and busied myself at home with some last minute cleaning. Scott of course couldn’t stand being at work once he found out things were starting so he rushed home. I was feeling contractions more regularly and with more intensity. I was writing down every time I was having a contraction. They seemed to be coming every five minutes! Looking back at that time NOW after having gone through labor, however, I wouldn’t really call those contractions. It was more like a little tightening. A little more painful that the Braxton Hicks contractions that I had felt during the last months of labor, but definitely not PAINFUL.

So Scott came home and we busied ourselves around the house getting everything in order. We put the final touches in the bag to bring to the midwifery, charged the ipod, and made sure the house was ready for a new baby. Things started to get more intense that evening. We tried playing some video games together, but the contractions were getting too painful for me to concentrate on the game, so I just watched Scott play some Bubble Bobble. Contractions were coming every 15-20 minutes.

Every time I felt one creep up, I would bounce on the exercise ball and breathe deeply to get through it. We thought for sure that we would be going into the midwifery that night, but things were just not progressing any further, so we decided to try to go to bed and get some rest. The contractions slowed to every 30-45 min. so I was able to get some rest in between them. The contractions were still quite painful, however, and I wasn’t able to stay in bed when they hit. I tried laying on my side once and it was just too much to bear. So every time I had a contraction, I would get up and bounce on the exercise ball.

More Prelabor: Thursday, August 27th

After what seemed like the longest night ever, it was finally morning. Scott at least got a decent night’s sleep! We got out of bed and sort of waited around to see if things got more intense. I took a shower and got dressed. We ate a light breakfast and decided that we needed to do something to get our minds off watching the clock. We went to the stone house for a nice long walk. It was a beautiful sunny day and I would drape my arms around Scott’s neck every time a contraction hit and we would sway together. After the walk we drove to pick up some cables that we had found from someone on Craig’s List to connect the computer to the TV. During the car ride, the contractions were getting too painful to bear, so we hurried home. We played some more video games and watched the clock to see if the contractions were getting closer together.

Things seemed to be pretty much the same, so we decided to get some rest while we could. Scott laid down for a nap. I tried to join him, but I couldn’t sleep during the frequent contractions, so I got up to listen to some HynoBabies. I drew a nice warm bath, lit some candles, and let myself slip into a very relaxed state. I got in and out of the tub and kept adding more hot water for several hours. The contractions were quite painful, but as I listened to the HynoBabies, I kept thinking of them as pressure waves that were bringing my baby one step closer to me. During the bath, I checked to see if I was dilated. I expected to feel a big gaping hole, but instead found that I was modestly dilated about 2-3 cm. Scott and I found an image to make the background of our computer that showed what each dilation looked like.

When I finally got out of the bath and Scott woke up from his nap, he made me a big fruit plate of mango, orange, and pineapple. We downloaded a program that helped us to keep track of contractions. Every time I felt a contraction, I pushed a button to record how long my contractions were and how far apart they were. Being in the bath must have slowed things down, because as soon as I got out, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute each. We recorded contractions for about an hour before finally calling the midwives. It was about 7:45 p.m. at this point.

To the Midwifery: Active Labor

Nancy was the midwife on call, and she wondered if there was any blood. I had lost the mucus plug already, but hadn’t seen any blood recently. She made it sound like we could come in if we wanted, but it wasn’t very urgent. I had just checked myself and I was dilated to about 4-5 cm and with the contractions becoming longer, stronger, and closer together, I wanted to get there asap.

We had a nice bed made up in the back of the Durango. It’s a good thing the windows were tinted because it would have probably drawn a lot of attention to see a woman rocking back and forth on all fours moaning loudly! I was afraid that I might have the baby in the car or something, but Scott got us to the midwifery in a cool twenty minutes. I had a big contraction right before heading up to our room, but and then when I got inside the birthing center, it was like I got stage fright. Nancy checked me and said that yes, I was at about 4-5 cm. She watched me have a contraction and must not have thought I was very close because she said it was going to still be awhile and wondered if we wanted to go home or walk around. I felt really judged and like I didn’t perform well enough for her or something. Did she even realize all that I had been through already???

 

Feeling at a Contraction at the Birth Center

Feeling at a Contraction at the Birth Center

In Between Contractions

In Between Contractions

Feeling a Contraction

Feeling a Contraction

We didn’t want to go anywhere, so we decided to get settled in and go for it. Scott set up the ipod and continued to play the HypnoBabies. The lights were dimmed and the whole room had a nice homey atmosphere. It didn’t take long for me to get comfortable, and as soon as that happened, my contractions intensified. Nancy said we were definitely making progress but that I still probably had about 6-7 hours to go. (Note to anyone ever helping a pregnant woman: DO NOT EVER TELL HER HOW MUCH TIME YOU THINK IS LEFT! ESPECIALLY IF YOUR ESTIMATE INCLUDES THE WORD “HOURS”!!!)

I was devastated. I thought we’d get there and within an hour I’d be pushing the baby out. Knowing that I had to go through 6-7 hours was enough to make me just want to give up. But you can’t give up when you’re in labor, you just have to take what your body throws at you. Nancy got me some energy water while I sat on the ball for another contraction. Scott got behind me and massaged my back just like we had practiced. Knowing that he would be there by my side for the whole thing started calming me down. I just listened to the HypnoBabies and tried taking it one contraction at a time like Nancy said.

We had been there for about two hours, walking the halls, sitting on the ball, propped against various chairs and tables when I decided that I wanted to get into the tub. The contractions were coming so fast and they were so painful. I just needed to keep trying something new so that it didn’t feel like I would be in pain forever. I got naked and slipped into the tub and it felt wonderful. I was weightless and there was no pressure on my back. I swam to the edge and Scott held me in his arms. We were bracing ourselves for the next contraction. We waited and waited and waited. The contractions had been coming about every minute and now 2-3 minutes slipped by with nothing. I enjoyed the break, but was starting to tense up as I anticipated the next wave.

The next contraction rolled through my body like a bulldozer. I could feel my body ripping, tearing, searing, burning, and consuming me with the most painful contraction yet. I stayed in the water for about 45 minutes. And while it helped to give me a nice break inbetween contractions, it made them so much more intense, so I decided to get out. Scott and Nancy dried me off and helped me back into my nighty. I was dressed just in time for another big contraction. I knelt in front of the log bed and squatted down as I held onto the wooden frame at the base of the bed.

When I was in the water, I didn’t think I could possibly tolerate any more pain or handle any more contractions of that magnitude, but this one was even more intense. I felt like I was going to panic. I didn’t think I could handle the pain that was consuming me. Scott was crouched beside me with encouraging words. My body felt like it was being torn apart by a viscous source of unknown agony. I tried to visualize what was happening to my body. I tried to see myself opening up and preparing the way for our beautiful little girl. I tried to not think about what was happening in terms of pain but as pressure sensations like the HypnoBabies had trained me. It was the longest contraction yet and I listened to Nancy as she advised me to take it one contraction at a time. It won’t last forever, I thought. It’s almost done.

Transition

I felt a wave of relief as the contraction subsided, but instead of getting a nice pain free break, I just felt the level of pain cut in half. When I stood up, I could feel a wet stream trickle down my leg. “I think my water broke!” I shouted triumphantly. Finally, some progress. Nancy wanted to check me to see how far I had dilated. Her probing fingers sent another wave of pain convulsing through my body. She pulled and prodded, trying to do what she could to speed things up. She announced that I was 6-7 cm dilated but that I had an anterior lip which meant that I wasn’t dilating evenly.

Only 6-7 cm I thought! All that pain and all that work for just 6-7 cm!!!! I didn’t know how much more I would be able to take. We had been there for almost five hours and it could be five more, or ten. I had no idea what to expect next. I wanted to tell Scott that I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted them to take me to the hospital. I didn’t just want an epidural. I wanted everything to stop. I wanted them to just cut the baby out of me. I couldn’t imagine pushing her through my tiny window. But the contractions were coming one on top of another and I couldn’t even speak. The only sound that escaped my lips was a loud guttural moan as the animalistic part of my body took over. One contraction at a time I kept thinking. That’s all I could think.

After she examined me, I positioned myself onto all fours and started rocking through the next contraction. The pain whipped through my body like a freight train knocking away my breath. I felt dizzy, nauseous and out of control. “I’m going to throw up!” I sobbed. “Get something, get something, get something,” I whimpered, not wanting to destroy the clean bedding with my vomit. I knew that I would be lying here with my daughter and even though I was consumed with pain, I knew that I didn’t want to cradle my newborn daughter in the middle of a pile of slimy sticky bile. Nancy and Scott quickly positioned a little bowl under my chin and I heaved into it as another contraction racked my body. All the fruit Scott had lovingly cut emptied into the basin. It felt good to get rid of it.

After that, I removed my crumpled body from the bed and tried walking down the halls. The contractions were coming one on top of another. I wasn’t getting any sort of break at all. I felt like I had to really choose to keep going, to not give up…because even if I were to give up, my body wouldn’t. So I just took it one contraction at a time and tried to remain calm. I visualized my body opening up to deliver my child. I tried to think of the pain as pressure waves. Scott held me and supported me with his soft voice and steady hands. He was my rock. I knew that if he was there, I could handle anything.

Nancy spent most of the time elsewhere and let us labor together. We were doing such a good job that she told me later she didn’t even know I had entered transition labor. She said that most moms start screaming at their husbands at that point and the midwives take over. But Scott and I were so calm and he was so supportive that she was able to leave us alone. At one point Scott had to go to the bathroom and Nancy was gone. I was all alone as another contraction mounted. “Scott, Scott! Where are you?” I called out. It was the only time he left my side all night and he was back in a flash. As soon as I felt his hands on my shoulders, I relaxed. I knew that I couldn’t do this alone. I needed him to believe in me and to support me.

We made our way to the bathroom and I decided to sit backwards on the toilet. Nancy said it was a good position to open things up. It hurt tremendously, but if pain meant progression, then I was all for it! I sat backwards through a few contractions. The pain was unbearable and I could literally feel myself opening up. I slumped off from the toilet and crouched down into a kneeling position in front of the toilet bowl. It felt like I should be vomiting into the toilet in this position!

Pushing

All of a sudden, I got the urge to push. I was terrified, but ecstatic at the same time. I knew that we were getting so close and I just wanted the pain to stop more than anything. Nancy and Scott were on either side of me. The RN had arrived and everyone was encouraging me to push. I felt the huge mass of her body inside of me screaming to get out. A huge sensation of pressure accompanied the next contraction and I lifted my head and screamed a low, guttural, growling crescendo that crested into the most intense scream I have ever heard in my life. Scott later said how impressed he was with the magnitude of my scream. It was powerful, raw, and I couldn’t believe that sound was escaping my body much the same way I couldn’t believe a small baby was about to come through me.

All of the yoga I had practiced was paying off as I settled into a deep squat. With each contraction came the urge to push and the urge to scream. I felt as the large mass inside of me prepared to leave my body. I could feel my body opening and my baby descending. Nancy and the RN were surprised that I had all of a sudden gotten the urge to push right there in the bathroom, but they adapted well. They put a mirror underneath me to check my progress and used the Doppler to check the baby’s heart rate. After about thirty minutes, I could barely feel my legs as they wobbled, struggling to support me. I could hear the worry in the RN’s voice as she announced that the baby’s heart rate was dropping. Nancy tried to remain calm, but with a twinge of panic said, “I think you better move to the bed honey.” Scott supported me while I stood up and quickly waddled to the bed, afraid the whole time that I was going to suck her back in and lose all of the progress I had made.

When I got to the bed, I felt such a wave of relief as my legs did not have to support me anymore. The pillows propping me up felt so soft and cradled my body like clouds. I was so happy knowing that I was so close, but I was really worried about the dropping heart rate. I felt like I really needed to work hard to get her out as soon as possible. Her heart rate started to do better with me on my back. Nancy told me to grab my left leg and pull it towards me as I pushed. With my chin down and my right arm gripping Scott with all my might, I let loose another loud scream as I bared down with all of my weight. I was starting to lose my voice and Nancy told me to put all of my energy into pushing instead of screaming. I immediately felt like I was able to push longer and harder with a more focused concentration.

“I can see the baby’s head!” Scott shouted. It was so close! I couldn’t believe I was almost done! (Scott said it looked like a hotdog coming out and he thought, man she’s got a little head, until he saw the rest of the head emerge.) Her head started to crown and I immediately thought of the term “ring of fire” and how it was very appropriately named. I could feel myself ripping, tearing, and stretching far beyond anything that I thought was humanly possible. I thought back to the birthing videos we saw where the women simply “breathed” their babies out. I was still worried about her heart rate and I just wanted to get her out to make sure she was okay, so I didn’t even stop for a break after a big push.

At that point, I didn’t care about the tearing, I didn’t care about an episiotomy, I just wanted to deliver a healthy baby. I pushed again as hard as I could and I could feel myself stretching even more. It felt like my whole body was about to tear in half. I kept listening to Scott and the midwives as they shouted words of encouragement. “One more push! Keep pushing! You’re almost there!” I gave everything my body had and finished the last big push. I felt her head pop out and then the rest of her body slide through. Nancy told us that as soon as the head was delivered, she saw a tiny hand, followed by the shoulders and then the rest of the body. It was probably that little hand that gave me the hematoma (a large broken blood vessel under the skin).

Nancy lifted the baby to my chest and I couldn’t believe I was holding my baby girl! Scott and I were crying and looking at the little miracle on my chest. I couldn’t believe she was crying already and I just wanted to rock her and comfort her. As soon as they lifted her up to me, she had her first meconium poop. I didn’t even notice as it ran down my body. I could feel the cord tug inside of my as I tried to lift her higher on my chest. It was too short! The cord had stopped pulsing, so they clamped it and gave Scott the scissors. He cut it with two snips. I pulled our little girl firmly onto my chest and we soaked in everything about her. She was looking up at us with these big dark eyes and her little pink  face. She was absolutely beautiful! I expected her to be a bloody, wrinkled, cone shaped mess, but she was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t believe how perfect she was! I just felt a wave of emotion pass through my body as it sunk in…this is my daughter…my little girl…my precious angel that I’d been talking to, singing to, and reading to for the past nine months.

Scott and I Meet Ruby

Scott and I Meet Ruby

Holding Ruby

Holding Ruby

With one more push, I delivered the placenta. They wrapped our little angel in a blanket and left Scott and I alone to marvel at this wonderous miracle. I was soooooooooooooo relieved that the labor was over and sooooooooooo happy to be holding my perfectly healthy little girl. Scott cuddled with us on the bed and we just stared at her in awe. The room had a soft red glow and we knew that the name Ruby suited her perfectly. Ruby Lynn Maaser. Born at 2:52 in the morning of August 28th, 2009.

After the Birth

I tried to breastfeed her right away, but we couldn’t get a good latch. The RN kept helping us, but my nipples were just too flat. Ruby latched on to one side for just a few moments, but that was it. We laid there together for about an hour and a half. They brought us some sliced apples and some cheese and crackers. The last thing I wanted to do was eat, but they told me I needed to build up my strength, so I forced some food down. It was such a surreal moment to be lying there in bed with our new family. I told Scott to shut his eyes for a minute. He was exhausted too. I kept trying to breastfeed her, but it just wasn’t working.

Eventually, Scott just put his finger in her mouth and she happily sucked on that. We would just have to try again when we were home. I slowly got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom where the RN had drawn me an herbal bath. I tried peeing on the toilet, but screamed out in pain. Apparently, I had a lot of “skid marks” that tore me up on the inside. The RN handed me a Peri bottle and that helped. I weakly washed myself off in the tub. Scott came in holding Ruby looking absolutely mystified. I got out of the tub and the RN helped me get dried off and dressed. Scott and Ruby cuddled together on the bed while Nancy stitched me up. I just wanted to lie in that bed and sleep for days, but they were already getting us ready to leave!

Scott went to get the Durango as I tried to get Ruby dressed. She was covered in meconium poop that just wouldn’t come off and they didn’t have any soft washrags, so I used baby wipes to do the best job I could. (Really, no washrags??? Maybe we could make a donation to the midwifery or something to help out future parents.) I awkwardly put on her diaper, not knowing if I was doing it right. The outfit I brought for her was way too big and I didn’t quite know how to put it on. I was feeling so overwhelmed and wondering why someone wasn’t helping me more!

When Scott came in, the RN went over a bunch of directions for taking care of ourselves and Ruby, but we were too shocked to really absorb much of anything. We hugged her and Nancy, and just four hours after giving birth, we were putting Ruby in her car seat and getting ready to go home. It was a crisp morning and I was just wearing my little nighty. Scott brought me a big sheet from the trunk to wrap myself in and we were on the road. Six hours of labor at the midwifery and four hours of recovery later, we were a family. We called our parents on the way home and through tears I gave them a summary of their new grandchild.

Trying to Breastfeed

When we got home I tried to breastfeed her again, but we still couldn’t get a good latch. I used the breastpump to extract a few drops. I put those drops in a little dropper and placed it inside her cheek. After drinking just a few drops, we both fell asleep in the bedroom while Scott drove around for hours trying to find nipple shields to help me breastfeed. When he came home, we spent the rest of the day sleeping. I kept trying to breastfeed and feeding her little droplets of milk.

The next night, after lots of patience and guidance, Ruby eventually latched on and I just started crying as her little mouth suckled and she received the nourishment she needed. Breastfeeding flowed smoothly after that. We excitedly called the rest of our family to tell them the wonderful news. We were so happy! Scott had a month off from work and it was the most amazing month of our lives. We didn’t know the difference between day or night, or even what day it was for that matter! We had a baby moon for the first week and didn’t allow any visitors.  It was so much fun trying to figure everything out. Everything was so wonderful and new. We just loved being parents to the most wonderful daughter in the world!

At Home with Ruby

At Home with Ruby

Holding Sweet Ruby

Holding Sweet Ruby

Scott Changing Ruby

Scott Changing Ruby

Ruby Lynn Maaser....Those Eyes!

Ruby Lynn Maaser….Those Eyes!

Ruby Lynn Maaser...Those Fingers!

Ruby Lynn Maaser…Those Fingers!

Ruby Lynn Maaser

Ruby Lynn Maaser