To understand this birth story, Addy’s birth story needs to be explained first. I should add my own “disclaimer” that I am in NO way doubting the Lord’s perfect will in the way he allowed Addy to be born. I know that the Lord used it to teach me (and Christian) a lot. However, when it was all done and said, I knew without a doubt that my body had not been given the chance to do what it was designed to do – – give birth naturally.
When we found out that we were pregnant with Addy, we did all the research and decided that we would deliver at St. John’s in Camarillo because they allowed midwives to practice there. I started my prenatal care at The Women’s Place and mainly saw one of the midwives. During my prenatal care with Addy, I met Dr. Fischbein but I didn’t have a lot of interaction with him since I was seeing the midwives.
I had everything planned out and knew I wanted a natural delivery without pain medication. Then Addy didn’t come – – for twelve long days. When I finally went into labor, it was the day before Thanksgiving. I had a “typical” first time labor, starting around 2am on Wednesday morning and continuing all day, through the night and on into Thursday. When I finally went into active labor, it was on one of two days of the year that the midwives or Dr. Fischbein were not on call.
I can say quite simply, we did not care for the doctor that was on-call that evening. She didn’t really care for our natural delivery plans and she definitely didn’t want to be at the hospital the night of Thanksgiving. The nurses were amazing but they were doing all they could to help me progress the way the doctor wanted me to – – the “blueprint” of deliveries. When I got stuck at 9.5 cm and Addy’s head was caught on the lip of my cervix, they had me push while trying to move the cervix – – for a few hours. I was completely wiped out by the time I was successfully dilated to 10cm and I was on pain overload.
That was pretty much it – – the doctor came in and let me push through one contraction and decided she was done with the entire thing. It was the craziest, most blurry moment of my life. She used words like “emergency” when she called a c-section yet she never said Addy was in distress (a common reason for a c-section). Somehow, my “emergency” c-section took 45 minutes to get together, while they were telling me not to push (for those of you that have pushed, you know how crazy that is). It was our first delivery and we were uneducated. At that point, we didn’t know what else to do but believe the doctor.
I am thankful that Addy was born safely and was a healthy baby, yet I also look back at my c-section and wonder why a c-section must be done the way it is done. After Addy was taken out, I remember lying there and wondering what was happening. I asked the anesthesiologist is she was actually a girl and how she looked. My first look at my baby girl was a five second glance as they held a swaddled baby next to my face before “whisking” her away. I had to be sewn up and then taken to the recovery room while Addy had to have a lot of “stuff” done to her. Forty-five minutes later, my baby girl was finally brought to me and laid on my chest.
I am blessed that Addy and I were able to bond and make up for that lost time. Addy was simply natural at nursing and wanted nothing more than to snuggle on my chest. I was also blessed that physically, I had a fairly quick and easy recovery. Emotionally, however, I felt like I had been in a horrible car accident. The following three weeks were a blur as we attempted to get back to a somewhat normal life. I struggled for months trying to come to grips with my c-section. Just when I thought I had dealt with it, I had two friends give birth successfully in February (three months later!) and I found myself in tears once again. I struggled feeling depressed that something was “wrong” with my body. It was a healing time in my walk with the Lord however, and finally about six months later I was able to surrender the entire thing to Him.
When we found out we were pregnant again, we automatically made out first prenatal appointment at The Women’s Place. (*Insert shameless plug – – if you live in Ventura County, you have to meet Dr. Fischbein because he is the BEST there is!) When we went in, we met with a new OB/GYN and found out that Dr. Fischbein wasn’t doing any hospital deliveries and that St. John’s Pleasant Valley didn’t allow VBACs. At the time we thought it was our only option and went along with it. Then in January, I was accidently scheduled on a day that only Dr. Fischbein was in the office, so I ended up seeing him instead of a midwife. Somehow as we sat there and talked, we ended up telling him how frustrated we were about being forced to have a repeat c-section.
Doctor Fischbein didn’t miss a beat – – explaining to us that it wasn’t truly our only option. We could have a c-section if we wanted but we could also not consent to a c-section once we got to the hospital. They can’t force you to have surgery but for myself personally, I knew that I needed a supportive environment if I was going to have a successful delivery. Another option was to find a hospital and a doctor that allowed VBACs but that would mean us traveling 45 minutes or more (think Southern California traffic if I went into labor during rush hour). Then Dr. Fischbein explained that he was doing home deliveries in an effort to reestablish a woman’s choice to give birth naturally and the way she decides to. He explained the thoroughness of it and what it would look like and as I sat there listening, I knew this was going to be the way baby #2 would be born.
At this point, I will skip January through May – – it was “typical” pre-natal care although I will argue that it was the best. It was mostly doctor’s office yet ten times more personal. We would have a full hour visit each time, Dr. Fischbein was the only one doing an ultrasound (not a tech) and he encouraged us to bring Addy and include her in the process. Towards the end, we met the midwife that would attend our birth with Dr. Fischbein and they made a home visit and helped us set everything up and plan out the birth. We felt relaxed yet completely prepared. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. ☺
Of course, I went late, just like with Addy. I guess 40 weeks is just not my magical number. I did everything known to be natural and healthy in order to induce labor but it was pretty much useless. It was such a challenging yet amazing time in my walk with the Lord. I look back now and realize just how much I (and probably many other women) had this idea that I was in control of when the baby would come. I knew that there was absolutely no reason the baby needed to be medically induced yet. At 39 weeks, the estimated weight was only around 6 pounds and I was still only measuring around 35-36 weeks. I knew my birth would be more successful if I let the baby come when ready but I will confess that I spent at least the last week shedding a tear or two every night! I wanted to know if there was a boy or girl in there and all I wanted to do was go shopping!
Finally I was approaching 42 weeks and Dr. Fischbein has a family reunion on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Tuesday before he was supposed to leave, we went in for our 41.5 week visit and I asked him if he would be willing to strip my membranes. I guess I have stubborn membranes because it didn’t really hurt and nothing happened. We decided to come back in on Wednesday and try one last time and that time it finally hurt a little but it only lasted for about an hour. We spent the day trying to relax and stay distracted. For two weeks I had been going to sleep diligently by 9 or 10pm but that night I had no desire to go to bed. We finally got to bed around 11pm and while Christian drifted off to sleep, I lay there thinking about meeting my new baby.
Then I had an uncomfortable contraction. I won’t say it hurt, but it was in the right place and it wasn’t painless. I was pretty sure it was false, but I sat on my birth ball anyway, laid my head on the bed and fell asleep. I woke up to another contraction. I glanced at Christian’s cell phone and it was 12:01a. I dozed back to sleep, only to be awaken by another contraction at 12:06, then 12:11 and 12:16. I remember thinking, “could this actually be real?” I dozed between contractions that came every five minutes until 1am and then my stomach started really growling. I moved to the living room, ate two bowls of cold cereal and set myself up with my birth ball, heating pad, laptop and worship music. I managed to surf the internet but stay off facebook to keep from looking suspicious! Around 2:30a I decided I needed another distraction so I woke my Mom up, knowing she is quite coherent in the middle of the night and thinking Christian could probably use the extra sleep.
My goal was to make it one hour at a time without waking Christian up. It ended up being pretty easy to do for a couple hours. My mom and I chatted about anything and everything, pausing for contractions that never stopped coming every 5-6 minutes apart. Most of them were bearable with my heating pad on my birth ball, worship music and my mom distracting me. We ended up waiting until about 6am to wake Christian up – – which was a blessing because he was very rested. Once Christian woke up, he and my mom got to work getting the room/living room/kitchen ready. I think we called Dr. Fischbein around 6am and told him that I had been having contractions since midnight. He was asking Christian how bad Christian thought the pain was which made me smile a little as Christian attempted to describe my “condition.” He said he would call and check on us in about an hour or two after everyone was up and around. I was a little worried my contractions would just stop once everyone was awake and I will confess I was earnestly praying that this was still the “real thing.” I still kept thinking it might be fake because baby was moving around so much and kicking so much and I was sure baby needed to stop moving in order to be born!
To my excitement, even after Sarah and Addy were up and my Dad came in from the motor home, my contractions were still coming at least every 6-7 minutes apart. They were definitely getting more uncomfortable and I would need to stop and focus on each one. It was such an amazing experience already at that point – – I was walking throughout the entire house, watching everyone get ready and whenever I would have a contraction, whoever I was around would stop and hold my hand, rub my back, stroke my hair, etc. Addy would come over and squat next to me and rub my back and say, “it’s okay mama.” I don’t remember hearing Christian talk to Dr. Fischbein again but I believe he and Karni (our midwife) came around 8:00 am. The only thing he did right away was check the baby’s heart rate, which of course stopped my contractions for a few minutes. They encouraged me to take a walk to help the contractions come closer together so at that point, my dad and Addy headed off to Burbank to make business calls and Christian, Sarah and I (with Sarah’s camera in tow) took a long, slow walk around our neighborhood. I am sure whatever neighbors witnessed us walking thought we were out of our minds.
The good part is that I am pretty quiet during the early stages of my labor so at least I wasn’t hollering my way around the neighborhood. I remember telling myself, “don’t worry Marie, you won’t even live here in a few months!” The walk didn’t speed up my contractions but it definitely intensified them and lengthened them. I had a few contractions that at the 30 second mark, Christian would say, “okay it’s halfway over” and I would exclaim, “no it’s not, it’s still getting worse” and the contraction would end up being a two minute contraction. I had one that I thought would never stop and it ended up lasting three minutes! I was pretty exhausted during those contractions and ready to head home after about an hour. When we got home, Dr. Fischbein and Karni were completely set up and had decided to go get some breakfast and let me focus and be alone.
My strep B test had been positive at 36 weeks, so in my own living room, Dr. Fischbein administered a dose of antibiotics through IV around 10am. That also helped my contractions phase out for about ten or fifteen minutes. I remember we were talking and laughing and then Christian hung the IV bag from the curtain rod on a hanger which made me laugh. It was night and day different from the IV I had gotten with Addy. Dr. Fischbein put a heparin lock in so that they could give me a dose of antibiotics every four hours as long as I was in labor. I think I was feeling kind of antsy at that point because I wanted to be progressing faster – – as far as I was considered I wanted to be pushing. I spent probably another hour or more just walking throughout the house and having contractions. I pretty much had a contraction in every room except the garage and Sarah’s bathroom. I even used Addy’s toddler bed and crib to support me at different times. I think everyone was eating lunch and they were encouraging me to snack, but I pretty much only wanted almonds and juice.
After lunchtime, Dr. Fischbein and Karni encouraged me to take another walk and afterward we would break my water (my water never broke on its own with Addy either and they finally ruptured it when I was 9 cm). This time our walk only lasted about 45 minutes and it was a LOT of work. I had intense and long contractions although they still came every 4-5 minutes a part. I was completely wiped out and told Christian I was ready to go home! When we got there, I got my second does of antibiotics and then Dr. Fischbein checked me for the first and only time. For those of you that think it would be better to be checked more often, I can honestly say that it was probably the best thing. I was not focusing on a measurable “progress” but instead simply focusing on each contraction, one at a time. When he did check me, I was dilated to a 6 or 7 and 100% effaced. Even that, I found slightly discouraging. I wanted to be dilated to 10 cm!
Dr. Fischbein ruptured my membranes (aka “broke my water”) around 2:30 or so. I was feeling pretty tired but I knew that my contractions would become more intense with the head bearing directly down. I asked if they thought I could get in the shower and that helped a little but it also slowed my contractions down. That was the last thing I wanted to happen, so I got out. I decided to lie down instead because I was really feeling sleepy. I immediately dozed off and slept for 15 minutes before I was awaken by a pretty painful contraction. I started to doze off again and found myself again jarred awake by a painful contraction. I was determined to get some sleep and tried to find a comfortable position. I was just starting to doze off when a third contraction hurt so badly I had to sit up to get through it. I started walking around the room until Christian came back in and then he helped me through a few contractions by massaging essential oils (for pain) on my lower back. I was getting to that place where everything hurt and it was hard to cope through contractions.
I decided to try sitting on the toilet. Don’t worry; it’s not as strange as it sounds. Many women have sat on the toilet during contractions and even pushing. It’s actually a pretty comfortable way to sit when you are in labor. I was trying to focus through my contractions and all of a sudden I wanted Christian and my mom right there with me. I was starting to shake all over and cry. I remember thinking I couldn’t keep going but now looking back I realize I was in transition. I looked at my mom and said, “I really want to get in the tub, like NOW.” I think they were having a problem filling the tub because our water heater is pretty small and had only filled the tub a few inches. Unknown to me, they started boiling water in everything and anything and dumping it in along with cold water and got the birth tub ready really fast.
It did feel better although I think in my dreams it had made the pain go away completely. It mostly just dulled the pain and helped me regain my focus and concentration. I started off by leaning over the edge of the tub and hanging onto Christian. I don’t actually remember this, but I am told this was the position we were in when I almost gave my husband two spiral fractures. All I remember was that for the first time the baby was completely silent and I had pain and pressure from different areas. I think there were a few times when I wanted to yell but I didn’t want to scare Addy and my dad (who were hanging out in the garage). I was still crying when I got into the tub and tried to take just one contraction at a time. I’d guess maybe 45 minutes into it, I started wanting to push and I started feeling differently. All of a sudden all I could think about was meeting our baby.
I ended up being in a kind of sitting position while Dr. Fischbein was trying to help me during contractions. Sarah, who had been quoting “Baby Mama” to me for months, while joking that she would be my “biwthing pahtner,” actually ended up being one. She held me under my arms for probably an hour. My mom was on my right side, helping me support my foot and leg and Christian was on my left side doing the same thing. Dr. Fischbein explained pushing but that was about it. He didn’t tell me when to push or when not to push. Pushing was still really painful – – in fact for me it was a little more painful when I first started pushing. Getting into the groove of pushing was pretty easy but I was so ready to be done that after a few pushes, I didn’t think I could keep going. It felt like contractions were coming one right after another and nothing was happening. I remember thinking a few crazy, irrational thoughts and then I heard someone exclaim, “there’s the head!” I know that normally would be an exciting part, but for me it was really scary for a brief moment, because everyone had seen Addy’s head also before my c-section. In that moment though, I remember realizing that everyone was standing around me, cheering and praying and no one was panicking or upset.
I heard Dr. Fischbein say, “no, probably twenty more minutes.” I guess he was answering my sister-in-law who had asked if she should start the video camera. I just remember exclaiming, “I can’t push for twenty more minutes!” Dr. Fischbein calmly replied, “what’s twenty more minutes? Six, seven more contractions? Look how many contractions you’ve made it through today” and he placed my hand on a tiny little head peeking out and said, “do you feel that? That’s your baby.” I think that is when the mad woman took over and the pain blurred away in the intensity of the moment. I had to work for about thirty more minutes but each push brought me closer to meeting my new baby. At the very end I remember thinking, “I HAVE to get this baby out” and pushing with all my might, a dark head of hair came out all the way. I’m pretty sure I yelled but I’m told I was actually pretty quiet. Dr. Fischbein checked for the cord and helped the top shoulder out which allowed the baby to rotate face up. He then pulled her slightly out and let me reach down and take over. I was the one that was able to pull her all the way out and she was already just staring at me and I brought her up to my chest. I glanced down and said, “I thought you were a girl!”
She just stared at me with the biggest open eyes and I held her close, repeating, “my baby really is here.” The next thing I actually remember saying was, “someone get Addy” but I think she was already in the room. Christian was bending over the tub with his hand on her head and I think that was when I said, “her name is Mercy Adoniyah.” Addy was completely mesmerized and it was quite possibly the most perfect moment. I think almost everyone in the room was grinning and crying at the same time. No one did a thing that I can remember. Because they didn’t cut the cord immediately, Mercy didn’t scream or get upset. She just started taking small breaths through her nose while her cord finished pulsating. She stared at me the entire time I was in the tub. After they clamped her cord and Christian cut it (the real cord, not the trimming version in the hospital) she gave a few hearty cries for good measure and then calmed down again and went back to staring at me.
When it was time to move into the bedroom, Christian took his shirt off, they handed him Mercy and put a towel over her. Once I was in the bed lying down, Christian laid her back on my chest. Of course there were a few more details like delivering a placenta and all but it just doesn’t seem all that important once the baby is finally here. I will mention that thanks to the awesome support of Dr. Fischbein, I didn’t need any stitches or anything. We were just allowed to be alone as a family for probably more than an hour while Dr. Fischbein and Karni cleaned up, everyone made/ate dinner and just had a normal evening. Around 8pm, Dr. Fischbein came in and did a newborn exam, which Mercy handled like a champ and then Karni helped me take a shower. Once we were back in bed, I tried nursing Mercy again but she wasn’t really interested. She just wanted to look around and soak everything in. I ate some dinner, made a few phone calls and then I was ready for bed. Mercy was ready to sleep and slept soundly in her cradle the entire night.
I’m sure there’s more and I’m leaving out some detail. I think this sums up enough though and it definitely took me long enough to write. I really have been working on this for the past two months. I can’t believe that today is August 16th and my baby is two months old. Happy birthday, princess. Mama loves you very much!