Ivy Simone’s Birth Story
On Friday, March 30, 2007 I was one day past my due date. I got up as usual and got Cyd ready for Kindergarten. While walking Cyd to school, I decided that it would not be a good idea to go to work that day. On the way home, I stopped at the bakery for a treat and emailed my boss to say I probably wouldn’t be seeing her for a little while.
I spent the day Friday sleeping and relaxing and generally enjoying what I suspected would be my last day to myself for quite a while. I was having the same kinds of Braxton-Hicks contractions that I had been having on-and-off for weeks.
At midnight on Friday, I was awakened by some wild kicking in my belly and a small gush of water. I got up to go to the bathroom and check. Yep! It was quite a bit, and I was sure my water had broken. I told James, who was still up, and then I put on a big “overnight” pad, and went back to bed. That night I had contractions that were getting kind of regular – every 15 minutes for a while, and every 10 minutes for a while. Mostly I slept through them.
We got up the next morning, made breakfast. The contractions had stopped being regular, and were coming on once in a while. I called the midwife, Rosanne Seminaro, the same midwife who delivered Cyd. Rosanne said that “we need to have a plan.” The hospital where we were going has a rule that babies must be born within 24 hours of water breaking, or else they do extended testing after birth to rule out sepsis. Rosanne said to meet her at Labor and Delivery at 4:00, or earlier if labor started in earnest.
Time to make plans for Cyd! Her very best friend, Julia, lives 2 blocks away, and we called her parents. We asked if Cyd could have her very first “sleepover” at their house that night. Ana and Patrick enthusiastically agreed, and I felt much better immediately. Wondering what Cyd would do while we were in the hospital had been weighing on my mind, but I knew that she would be happy and safe at Julia’s, and also within quick walking distance of the hospital. Cyd and Julia were both so excited about the “sleepover,” and Cyd packed her overnight bag.
At 3:30 PM, we walked Cyd to the playground where Patrick & Julia were playing. We gave her big kisses and left her with overnight bag. Then we walked to the hospital.
We walked right up to Labor and Delivery, but Rosanne wasn’t there yet. We fended off the triage nurses for a little while, and then I consented to be hooked up to the monitors and have my vitals taken. Rosanne eventually arrived and watched the contractions on the monitor, but she said “baby is sleeping, we need to wait until she gets responsive to the contractions.” After actually jostling her awake, she was responsive the contractions. Rosanne said we had to make a choice. Try to get labor going more regularly by walking, or hook me up to pitocin (a synthetic of oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions). I was very opposed to having pitocin, for a number of reasons. Mainly I was concerned about the reports that pitocin makes contractions far more painful than “natural” contractions, and also because I knew that with pitocin I would have to remain hooked up to all the monitors and wires and IV, and I really didn’t want that. I told Rosanne that I was not afraid of pain, but I AM very afraid of being tied down and constrained, especially during labor!
So we walked the halls. We walked from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, and Rosanne said that she would do an internal exam to find out how dilated I was, as long as I was willing to go with pitocin if we weren’t making progress. If I was completely set against pitocin, then she didn’t want to take the chance of introducing any bacteria. Reluctantly, I agreed. She said I was dilated to 5 cm, but the contractions were still pretty irregular.
We went into a delivery room, where a nurse hooked me up to the monitors and a hep lock in my hand. I felt totally trapped on my back, both arms and my belly hooked up to wires and tubes. They started an IV bag of glucose and fluids. Every time I tried to sit up, the monitors lost their signal, and the cord to the IV was very short. I felt very discouraged and a little scared, and started to cry. The nurse came back in and asked me if I wanted an epidural, saying, “He’s right here, the anesthesiologist – it’s not worth it!” She didn’t understand that I wasn’t crying because of the pain, but because of the constraint and the feeling of helplessness that I was sliding down a slippery slope of interventions. James and I both assured her that I didn’t want an epidural, but it seemed like she didn’t understand, and she went jogging out the door after the anesthesiologist. Somehow we got it straightened out that I did not want an epidural. Rosanne was about to hook up the pitocin when the nurse pointed out that my contractions were much stronger, very regular, and appeared productive. Rosanne said, “Hey, maybe you DON’T need pitocin after all!” They unhooked everything except the saline/glucose IV and I stood up and gratefully walked around the room.
With the IV, I still couldn’t go in the shower, but we settled down with me standing and leaning on the back of a padded chair. James stood near me and rubbed my back. Between contractions we chatted with Rosanne. The contractions were pretty intense, but not especially painful. I did a lot of moaning through them, and rested between. This part lasted only about 20 minutes. Rosanne asked me to tell her when it felt like there was a lot of rectal pressure, because that was a good sign that it was time to push. Once I felt like the pressure was “a lot,” I told her I thought it might be time to check dilation.
I got back up on the bed, but without all the monitors. She checked and found I was 9 cm dilated, but, she said, there was just a tiny lip of cervix around the baby’s head. She told me to push with the next contraction, and she would try to get the lip of cervix slipped over the baby’s head. I pushed, and she was able to get it over! She said, “Okay, let’s push this baby out!” I couldn’t believe it. It took hours and hours to dilate to 10 cm with Cyd! It was only 7:30! The midwife and nurse “broke down” the end of the bed and got all the things ready for the baby. They got my feet up in the air so that I could do a sort of on-my-back squat, and I started pushing with the contractions.
The pushing part of labor was definitely my least favorite. Some women report that they find pushing exhilarating and “fun,” but to me it is just plain hard, painful work. But it only took about 6 pushes, and her head was out! I was so exited, and thought the hardest part was done. However, just like Cyd, Ivy’s shoulders proved to be a bigger problem than her head. Rosanne was starting to get very worried about shoulder dystocia, and urgently told me to push absolutely as hard as I could. I pushed with all my might, and Ivy slipped out. What a relief!
They put her on my belly, and immediately she started crying. I snuggled her to me while the midwife and nurse swabbed her off and clamped and cut her cord. James leaned down and talked to her, both of us completely wrapped up in her beautiful newness. Everything about her was perfect. She nursed like a champ from that very first hour of her life.
I had minor tears, which Rosanne sewed up quickly. Then she and the nurse left the room to give us an hour or so together. I felt so good, and I couldn’t believe I was holding little Ivy after a short and easy labor. Thank you, Ivy, for being so easy on your mama!