Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anjali's Birth Story as Told by her Mama

Anjali's birth story started months before her birth. She was going to be delivered in the hospital like 99% of American babies are. My OB made it clear that this was a low risk pregnancy and that after 3 ultrasounds, everything was progressing well. But as we prepared, we learned information that changed our lives. After learning that the USA has the worst infant and mother mortality in the industrialized world, mostly caused by unnecessary interventions,  the highest C-section rate in the industrialized world, and a culture of procedure oriented and litiginous defensive care, I did not want to medicalize my baby's birth and pay the consequence for accepting the status quo blindly (a system that I had seen first hand when I was a medical student). I began to have doubts about having my baby in the supposedly "safe" hospital setting. I started to look into this further. Jeremy and I read WHO stats, watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born" and talked to people who had had their births at home. We met with Christy Santoro from Motherland Midwifery who came highly recommended by many, and Jeremy and I felt very happy with her. At 34wks, we switched and received excellent care from her and our other midwife, Meredith Klein. We never doubted that we had made the right choice for us.

Anjali's due date was February 7. Only 5% of babies are born on their due date. On the evening of February 6, I started to have more Braxton Hicks contractions. We tried to time them but they were still sporadic. Then at 4am, I woke up Jeremy and when we started to time them, they were 10 min apart. At 5am, we called our doula Amy Borrelli and she said to call the midwives at 8am. You see, the day before, we got the worst snowstorm Philadelphia had on record. We needed to let everyone know what was happening as soon as possible. At 8am, the contractions or birthing waves were 5-7 min apart. At 11am, both Meredith and Christy and Amy were in the house and settled. Jeremy had to go out and shovel places for them to park. I listened to a Hypnobabies track to keep centered and started to labor with Amy.

As the waves deepened, I swayed with Jeremy for a while on the third floor. I was oblivious to anything else happening. It was a very special moment for me to be with my husband in this way.  During this time, the midwives got the birthpool ready but when I got in, it was too cold, so I got out and labored in the bedroom for a while. When the birthpool was the right temperature, I got in and found a relaxation through the waves but the waves got very strong and it was late afternoon now. I was so tired. I had vomited up everything I had eaten earlier and could not keep anything down. I just hit a wall and I wanted out. I called for Christy and asked her if it was too late to go to the hospital and get an epidural. That was a fantasy of mine that I knew deep down was not an option. Meredith and Christy checked me and I was fully dilated. An epidural would just slow the labor down. So at that point in time, I had refocus and work through the waves. Mentally, I went to my special place.

We moved from the birthtub to the bedroom, and I labored on the birthstool for a while and kneeling on the bed. Then the urge to push started. I had this urge to make primal deep sounds with these. Christy made me this amazing ginger tea that I could keep down. I changed to laboring by sitting on the bed but the pushing sensations stopped. Meredith and Christy checked the cervix for a lip but there was none, so they suggested that I stand up and walk down the hall to the shower. Christy walked with me and as soon as I got up, the pushing urges came back. I labored holding onto Christy. She was this solid rock. We made it to the bathroom but the pushing urges were so strong. Christy told Jeremy to turn off the water, I would not make it to the shower.Christy encouraged me to push "Down and out into the earth" and then holding onto Christy, the baby's head started to crown. I heard Jeremy say it. I could feel the stretch on the next push.and I tried to push the head out, but I had to wait until the next wave. I remember thinking that these sensations weren't painful but they were very powerful and took over my body.  Jeremy and Meredith were on the floor, I remained standing and at the next wave, the head came out. I could feel this and hear Jeremy telling me this too. I had to wait for the next wave. Finally, in the next wave, the baby's body came out and I heard Jeremy's voice and saw my baby as Christy brought her up. Jeremy and I tried to see if it was a boy or girl but we couldn't see at first because it was candle-lit then someone hit the lights on and we could see she was a girl. It was so nice to find out this way and not announced by some ultrasound tech. I lay down because a gush signalled the coming of the placenta. Christy held the baby and when she was delivered, Jeremy held her while the midwives and doula attended to me. I remember thinking "I did it". She was born at 7:39pm.

I finally got into bed, Christy rubbed my feet, they checked me for tears, and  tended tome and the baby, Amy fixed us something to eat- some warm soup and grilled cheese sandwiches- and finally, everyone left at 10:30p after giving us some instructions. Anjali weighed 7 lbs, 5 ounces, was 20 inches long, and had Apgars of 8, 9.  I was so tired. We all just slept with the baby sleeping on Jeremy. It was the perfect end to a long day.


TPS-SheilaP said...

Our whole family wept with joy as we read the inspirational and beautiful accounts of Your birth, Anjali! We love you so much and we haven't even met yet!! What a blessing you already are and how we look forward to watching that blessing blossom into the person you become! All our love to you and Madhavi and Jeremy. We feel blessed to be able to share this journey with you all and grow together into a community of families!

Anonymous said...

I was so moved to read your beautiful stories of Anjali's birth.It is difficult to capture the magic of birth but I feel you have done just that.Madhavi and Jeremy-you are amazing and exceptionally courageous!Together you share the mystery of welcoming new life to this world.You are a wonderful family and I can't wait to meet Anjali and I wish for her life to be filled with love, joy,enthusiasm
and happiness.Love and blessings. Y