Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Amber's Beautiful "En Caul" Birth

Signs and Wonders: Zoe's Birth Story
by Amber




Outside, a shadow was creeping over the face of the moon. Peering out the bathroom window, I hoped to catch a glimpse of it but quickly gave up my search, figuring that the clouds of the Pacific Northwest were once again eclipsing my view of this lunar phenomenon.

Inside, weariness was creeping over the face of this forty-and-a-half-week-pregnant-lady. Trudging back to bed with the false hope of sleeping comfortably before the next inevitable bathroom break, I tried to release everything that was clouding my mind – worries, frustration, fear – eclipsing my view of the never-changing, faithful God of Creation.

Blood moon. The language adopted to describe the orange glow over the moon intrigues me. There is nothing mysterious about it – just the sun, moon, and earth following their natural course – and yet for me it is the language of promise and a sign of remembrance (see Acts 2). A reminder that Jesus is establishing His Kingdom on earth, and that His desire is to pour His Spirit out on us and on our sons and our daughters. A reminder that He is with us and that He is faithful.

It is a reminder that I seem to stay in need of, especially when life with three little girls, homeschool, and a part-time job gets so crowded that it seems difficult to breathe, much less take deep breaths of Life.

Was I ready for a fourth?! No, I decided. No, I was not. Three weeks previous, my midwife told me that all signs pointed to her coming “at any time”. And yet here I was past-due, my body already half-way to the magical 10 centimeters and nary a sign of “real labor”.  Body and mind apparently concurred.

This was my “high-risk” pregnancy: advanced maternal age (a whopping 35 with healthily low blood pressure), gestational diabetes (with such a tightly controlled diet that my blood sugars were as low as – if not lower than! – “normal” women If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes – and even if you aren’t – I strongly recommend Trim Healthy Mama, and high levels of group b strep bacteria. Even though the mere diagnosis of gestational diabetes meant that this baby had to born at the hospital instead of the birthing center, we laughed about the first two conditions making me “high-risk”.
I was not, however, at peace regarding the group b strep. It was talked of nonchalantly enough. A “normal” bacteria that occasionally increases in number. Can only be transmitted to baby after water has broken. Higher risk the longer water has been broken. Risk reduced to practically nothing with penicillin IV 4 hours before birth.

Except I have really short labors. No four hour warnings here! And even the use of penicillin comes with its own risks. I fleetingly prayed that the Lord would show me what to do, and oh, could You just make it so that my water doesn’t break until after she is born? That would be really cool. Thanks!

Read the rest of Zoe's incredible birth story at Amber's blog here
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Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives? 
We would love to hear your story too!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome November 2014 Babies!

Welcome to all the babies born with the PeaceHealth midwives in November! 

We are so glad you are all a part of the Birth Center family and would love 
to see your photos and hear your stories!



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jenna's Beautiful Birth Center Birth

David's Birth Story
by Jenna



For weeks and and weeks prior to the birth, I'd been having prodromal labor... meaning that I was having some really uncomfortable contractions that never escalated into real labor. They were uncomfortable enough to make me extremely grumpy, though.

Thankfully it was on and off instead of constant. So there were plenty of days in those last few weeks wherein I hardly noticed what my uterus was doing, thank goodness. And then there were the days where my uterus was a complete and utter jerk.

A week ago, I got my membranes swept at my checkup with the midwife. That means she stuck her fingers into my cervix (that's the entrance to the uterus, located at the top of the vagina) and then manually separated the bag of waters from the cervix. It feels really, really crampy. But, seriously, compared to the discomfort my uterus had been inflicting on me for a while, it wasn't that bad.

In theory, sweeping the membranes is supposed to stimulate prostaglandin release, and thus encourage the cervix to soften and dilate, and therefore encourage labor to start. At this point, I was 3-4 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. Emily, the midwife in clinic that day, thought I'd go into labor quite soon and even told the on-call midwives to expect my call at any time.

Only... jerkface uterus was against this idea, and besides cramping like a monster all of that day, nothing happened. The uterus wasn't too mean to me for the rest of the week. I was supposed to go get my membranes swept again on my due date, but this didn't pan out because a midwife had called in sick and things were hectic.

So I went in to see the midwife in the morning yesterday, a little frustrated that I had made it several days past my due date, especially when I really wanted to have the baby in the birth center. (I would be required to give birth in the hospital after 41 weeks, which was only a few days away.) Oh, and not to mention that I was having pretty much every pregnancy symptom in the book on top of the disgusting nausea and vomiting.

The midwife (Emily again) swept my membranes for the second time. This time, I was 4-5 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. In the words of my sister-in-law, I was walking around with the door half-open. (Ha.) Emily also mentioned that my bag of waters was "bulging" and that she was afraid that she'd accidentally break it.

I went home and, within a few hours, my uterus got grumpy again. Soon I was having contractions every five minutes apart or so. At this point, I would still label this prodromal labor, but I guess it's hard to say. I say it's prodromal because, although they were really, really uncomfortable and annoying, they were still the kid brother contractions I'd been having for weeks, not really real ones. That said, they were kid brother contractions with an attitude, and I thought they might escalate into real labor, so I summoned James home. This was mostly necessary because I was getting really grumpy with Amelia, who was magically headbutting me in the uterus every single time I had a contraction, and jumping all over me, and... well, if you're having contractions (even the kid brother kind), this is not welcome attention. I swear the kid had a spidey sense, or something.

After James had been home for an hour or so, we decided to go on a walk since the contractions, still every five minutes, had not intensified. We walked outside, and decided the sun was too assaultive, and jumped into the car instead. We headed over to Target and walked there instead. For hours.

Sure, the contractions sucked... But I'd done labor before, and I was under no impression that anything was actually happening with them. They'd been going on for four hours now, every five minutes, and I hadn't had any worthy of the name mama bear... all kid brothers. All of them.

Frustrated, I called the midwife on call (Patricia). Her advice was to go home and take a warm shower/bath, which would do either one of two things: 1) kick real labor into gear, or 2) relax my uterus into a non-labor stupor. It did the latter, which very nearly crushed all of James' hopes and dreams. Seriously, he was more depressed than I was. Patricia had me eat a good dinner, drink lots of water, and go to bed on time, warning me that she suspected real labor would probably start in the night some time.

I had some contractions later in the night before bed, but again, these were all kid brothers. I managed to sleep through them. When I did wake up multiple times in the night, it wasn't the contractions that woke me, it was the full bladder.

Until about 4:30 am, that is. Bam. Contraction! I was suddenly awake. And oh, this wasn't a kid brother. So I pulled out my phone to time the suckers (I hate timing contractions... hate, hate, hate it), and after about three of them, five minutes apart, hurting like the dickens... I determined this was real labor and called the midwife around 4:45 am.

It was Hilary at this point... and her on-call shift ended at 6am. She thought I probably had some time before I'd need to show up at the birth center, and told me just to plan on meeting Patricia (the midwife who'd be on call starting at 6am) there... at 6am. Like... over an hour later. Of course, she said, call back if you really think you need to get there sooner, but I think you'll be fine.

I agreed to this plan at first, thinking it was probably sensible enough. I got into a warm bath, hoping that this'd soothe the pain somewhat, but...

I ended up calling Hilary back at like 5:20am to tell her I needed to go to the birth center before 6am. My contractions were three minutes apart. Oh, and they sucked. All I could think of is that these contractions sucked so bad, and boy, did I not want to be confined in the passenger seat of the car while trying to deal with one. Seriously. That plan was a no-go. Car ride now, not later. (We also called our friend Cassie to come, because we needed someone to watch Amelia at the birth center while James was helping me out.)

Poor Hilary reluctantly met us at the birth center at about 5:45am once I insisted that I really couldn't wait until 6am. I think I was right. Once we got there, I started to get very nauseous. (For the people who don't know, this is a sign that I am almost fully dilated and that the pushing stage is about to happen. I.e. labor is almost over.) We had to wait a few minutes for Hilary to show up, and during that time, I was madly pacing through contractions and keeping an eye out in the landscape for a suitable place to vomit. Because I might have to.

We got inside. I stripped immediately. Well, immediately after a contraction, anyway. I found a toilet. Baby was low. As in, really low. Pushing poop out low. My rectum felt squished, probably because it was. It was like... like... there was a baby's skull pushing down on my butthole from the inside. Kind of like that. Only this was secondary to feeling like my entire pelvic bone was trying to come out. Basically, lots and lots and lots of pressure in the nether regions.

Hilary checked baby's heart rate and my cervix as soon as I let her. Baby was fine. My cervix was 9 centimeters dilated, so she warned me that I'd probably want to start pushing any time now. "Has your water broken?" "No." At this point, Patricia showed up and took over. Anne (a midwife-in-training) showed up, too...

I got in the bath, only to discover that James had failed miserably at making sure the water was warm. It was pretty chilly. Too chilly for the baby, so I wasn't going to be allowed to give birth in the tub, and the water wasn't all that effective at relieving the pain. I supposed that was okay, because my only specific plan for the birth was to do whatever I felt like, but I was pretty annoyed. Not gonna lie. Annoyed.

I elected to stay in the water for a time, though, because of the buoyancy. I started to basically bob up and down with each contraction, because that's what my body felt like doing. I suppose this was getting baby down into the birth canal. In the meantime I was still annoyed at the cold water. Oh well.

Patricia and Anne kept saying things like, "Wow. She is so calm and focused!" between the contractions. I'm not sure what I would have called it. Focused, I guess. Calm...? I might have been. I think there should be a different word for it. I don't know what it is. I felt very primal though. Maybe that's it.

I was bobbing up and down for a contraction in the tub, when... SKIDOOSH. (Not the Wuxi finger hold!) "My water just broke." It felt like there was Diet Coke up there and someone had dropped some Mentos in. Only it was exploding out my hoo-ha. (Pleasant? Uhhh... not really...) Followed immediately by a baby's head.

And that's when I stood up and somehow got out of the tub. I'm not sure who I used to get out. James, Patricia, or Anne... or all of the above, maybe. In any case, I got out of the tub, and sat promptly on the birthing stool. And at this point the pressure in the nether regions got really bad, that and the stinging. Oh, the stinging!

The stinging is the stretching of the... everything. The perineum and everything around it. We could feel David's head when I got out of the tub. It was so squished that it was super wrinkly. (The midwife later told me one dad asked if that was baby's brains when the same thing happened with his baby. Nope. Just very squished head.) Someone commented that he didn't have much hair. I said "can't" here, I think. I was trying to say that "I can't tell if that's baby's head or just me", but talking was impossible. The stinging felt like I was ripping in half, right down the middle. I have some important bits right down the middle. I was worried about them.

I got fed up with the birthing stool, and waddled kind of spread-eagled over to the bed, because I had this idea that side-lying would be comfortable for me. Only as soon as I laid on my side, I realized... No, no way. Not the side. So I turned onto my back, slightly propped up, and with my legs wide...

And then I really, really, really had to push. I'd kind of been pushing before, but now I pushed. And I vaguely remembered that screaming helps with pain management. So I let out some mighty screams. Best pain management technique ever. It really did help. It also really helped to keep in mind that David was practically almost out.

With a mighty scream, I got his head out. And also, a lot of amniotic fluid. I don't remember if he made any sounds at this point. I wouldn't have realized that he was partly out had the midwives not told me. With another mighty scream, and a lot of my body urging me to just get that sucker out, I got the rest of him out in a giant gush of fluid. James was fortunate not to get splashed.

And then I felt much better. It was 6:39am, about an hour after we'd arrived, and about two hours after labor had started.

They put him on my belly, and he started talking and complaining about his exit immediately. Seriously, really cute baby noises. He sounded like the cute baby dragon or baby dinosaur noises you hear on cartoons and movies.

And then...

[You can read more about Jenna and David's adventures at the Birth Center here]

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Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives? 
We would love to hear your story too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Welcome October 2014 Babies!

Welcome to all the babies born with the PeaceHealth midwives in October! 

We are so glad you are all a part of the Birth Center family and would love to see your photos and hear your stories!



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Report from the AABC Birth Institute

Special thanks to former LaneCoFBC Board Member Katharine Gallagher for her report on last week's Birth Institute in Washington, DC.


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September 20, 2014

Greetings Lane County Friends of the Birth Center!

Thanks for asking me to write about attending the annual American Association of Birth Center’s Birth Institute in Washington, DC. I attended as a board member for the Commission on the Accreditation of Birth Centers. I joined this board a few years ago and it’s been a great chance to build on the positive advocacy experience of participating with the LaneCoFBC consumer group.

It’s an exciting time for birth centers and the communities they serve. There are now 270 freestanding birth centers in the United States in 37 states and DC. This represents growth of 38% since early 2010 when there were 195 birth centers in the US. The word is definitely spreading about the quality, outcomes and consumer satisfaction with birth-center and midwifery care.

The AABC Birth Institute is an action-packed couple of days. The fun kicked off with a day of lobbying. Following a morning briefing by the AABC federal lobbyist, I hopped on a bus with birth center midwives, nurses, administrators, owners and supporters from around the country to visit our elected officials on Capitol Hill. I met with staff from Congressman DeFazio’s and Senators Wyden and Merkley’s offices.

Lobby day was a great chance to share information about critical issues and to highlight important accomplishments. I especially liked providing information about the AABC Strong Start for Mothers Initiative. Strong Start is a four-year demonstration project for reducing preterm birth using the birth center model of care. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid funded this grant and the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center is one of the demonstration sites.

At the Birth Institute, I also previewed the brand new movie “Microbirth.” This short documentary presents and discusses current scientific research on epigenetics. The potential inter-generational consequences that may result from the interruption of physiologic birth are explored. If ever there was a film to caution against unnecessary intervention in childbirth, this is it.  

What’s a conference for and by birth center professionals and supporters without a visit to an area birth center? Having the chance to visit Birth Care and Women’s Health in Alexandria, Virginia was terrific fun. It’s a beautiful birth center right in the heart of a busy urban corridor.  

In the midst of all this excitement are board meetings for the CABC. Giving my time to this organization allows me to see first hand the infinite ways in which diverse and always-evolving birth centers use accreditation to flourish through accountability. These birth centers are the lynchpin to the continued rising profile and reach of birth centers within the maternity care system. Check CABC out to learn more about the exciting important work it does to support growth of the birth center movement.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Lissa's Beautiful Hospital Birth

Elisabeth's birth story
by Lissa
Photo by Deborah Louie
www.facebook.com/theTwistedEyePhotography


I researched the options for the safest and most fulfilling way of giving birth.  I decided a midwife at a birth center was what I wanted. I wanted skin-to-skin time, no drugs, breastfeeding only and no stress of a hospital. As my pregnancy came to an end, I was at 41 weeks and still had not gone into labor.  After discussion with my midwife and husband, we decided to begin induction.  That night found me in a hospital, exactly the place I wanted to avoid.  I personally hate hospitals.

After monitoring the baby, we were unable to proceed as we had originally counseled with the midwife.  Instead, my induction plan required an IV catheter, which was also a hated and dreaded affair.  Placing the catheter fulfilled all my negative expectations as I had difficult veins.  A restless night later, there was still very little contractions and I was not in labor.  Another induction technique was used and failed.  Finally, we decided to induce with pitocin.  It was 24 hours since checking into the hospital and 10pm at night that the pitocin was started.  I think I was able to rest an hour before the contractions began coming too strong.  Waking up my husband to help with counter pressure, I began a night I will never forget yet find details hard to remember.

The contractions came each time harder than the last.  I attempted to ride them like waves as the birthing class explained.  It is much easier said than done, however with the encouragement of my mom, husband and labor nurse I found a rhythm.  I remember finally releasing and giving into the whims of my body in the blessed jacuzzi, better termed the "aqua-dural".  At that moment, I had no other recollection beyond my contractions but the intense pain dulled and I felt I could indeed do this!

After awhile I opted to have my water broken as I was getting exhausted and was ready for the end.  My cervix was very slow to dilate.  I was only at 7cm when the midwife broke my bulging sac.  The rest seems a blur as I attempted not to push but often could not override my body. Finally, only dilated to 9cm, the midwife said it was safe to push.  I have never felt so relieved! Ten minutes later, there was a baby girl laying on my stomach.  She wasn't breathing.  I remember thinking she was so slimy, followed by asking over and over if anyone could tell if she was breathing.  I didn't want to panic, but I was worried and no one was responding to me as all focus was directed to my non-breathing child.  The midwife had her cord cut and Elisabeth whisked away to be resuscitated in record time.  Laying in bed getting sutured, I would get reports from nurses that Elisabeth was intubated (a breathing tube placed so they could breathe for her), then sent to the NICU, and finally extubated and crying.

A pediatrician came and gave us the report of her status and instructed us that we would not be able to hold our baby for 3 days as she would be in a cooling therapy with intravenous feeding to avoid brain damage. (She took 7 minutes to begin breathing on her own during her resuscitation.)  I went home without a baby recognizing my entire birth plan had been tossed out the window with the exception of being able to labor without drugs.

Three days later, I held my baby girl for the first time and began breastfeeding that day.  I have never felt such a rush of pure joy.  It was a trying and exhausting 5 days total of being in the NICU for Elisabeth and for us but we got through it with the support of God, family, and the wonderful staff.  It has only solidified the pure joy of giving life to a wonderful baby who thankfully is completely healthy.  It was an experience I would never give up thanks to my midwife and birth-center support prior to and during my labor.

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Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives? 
We would love to hear your story too!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hannah's Beautiful Hospital Birth

Thank you to blogger hmv for sharing the story of her daughter's birth at Riverbend with the Peace Health midwives. You can read more about Hannah at her blog: "The Lighthearted Life of hmv"

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My Birth Story
by Hannah




My birth story has been hard to write.  The experience of giving birth was many things I expected -joyous, exciting, intense- and many things I did not -emotionally draining and even traumatic.  Many people told me that you cannot predict what your birth will be like and to expect some changes in the plan.  But that kind of advice doesn't really help prepare you, and I guess that's the point.

As many of you know, I prepared for a birth without medication using a technique of self-hypnosis.  We took an intensive birth preparation class called HypnoBabies, which I really liked.  Essentially, the class teaches you how to use deep relaxation, similar to meditation, to "turn off" your body when you need to and to focus on relaxing through the contractions.  Many women who used this technique said that they had pain-free births, and on average, women have shorter labors and fewer complications.  It was also a really nice way to prepare for birth because Jake and I would do practice exercises together that help you let go of fear and just relax.  Can't complain about that.  The actual reality of the birth experience was a little different.  But we'll get to that.

Ultimately, I wanted a healthy birth without interventions so that baby and I would be as safe and healthy as possible.  I think it's a common misconception that women who want a natural birth are martyring themselves for some heroic purpose.  I'm not anti-drugs; I love Advil and I've never gotten a prescription that I didn't fill immediately.  But I researched all-things birth for a long time and decided that the best thing I could do for me and the baby would be to use what nature gave me and avoid interventions.  Epidurals and pain meds are not 100% safe for mom or baby, they often lead to more and more interventions, and I have a close friend who recently endured one of the worse epidural-related complications...so I was motivated.

But on to the story.  Stories are better with pictures, so here we go...

My sister Amy Lou getting my birth hair ready.

My water broke at 8am on Wednesday, August 10th.  I had an appointment that morning at 8:30am at the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center.  I'd been getting all my prenatal care there, and I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, when I looked down to see that water was spilling out of me, I also saw that it was not clear.  I yelled to Jake in the kitchen, "I think my water just broke."  He came in and was a little confused too - to be honest, it kind of looked like I was just losing control of my bladder.  But I wasn't.  The discoloration was due to meconium in the water, which is the baby's first poo and is supposed to happen after they're born (ick).  It can be a sign of fetal distress ... or it can just happen because you are 6 days overdue (my situation).


Click here to read the rest of the story


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Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives?
We would love to hear your story too!