The Birth of Dimitri Jay W*****
as witnessed by Kelsey
Just to give a little background, Jennifer and I have been friends since we met in nursery when we were 2 years old. All I remember is fighting over which stool we were going to sit on with another good friend Rachel. There was a maroon one which was coveted most, and a green one that was okay, but not as good as the maroon one. Rachel usually got the good one, and the green one was first come, first serve.
The next 18 years passed quickly. We had good times and hard times together, fought a lot, but made up without too much ado. I still remember when I ran into a car and broke my leg. My most vivid memory of the event was looking up in the sky and seeing my good friend's upside down head say, "You have got to be more careful!" Another favorite, though hard, memory took place at a mutual activity. We were playing human foosball, where all the players held onto PVC pipe and ran back and forth trying to kick the ball. There was a fly ball heading towards Jennifer, although it was rather high. Her right leg swung around so high that my jaw dropped like a rock. It was a wicked kick! She got the ball, but unfortunately ended up throwing her back out in the process.
Over the years we ended up going to church together, spending nights giggling in front of some chick flick, browsing the mall, dating and eventually we both got married, all with good memories. So when I heard that this friend of mine was going to have a baby, I got so excited. Birth is something I'm interested in anyways, so I knew I wanted to be there for her. I had been studying to be a doula for a few months before hand, although I had not yet had the chance to attend a birth. She was kind enough to allow me to attend her special day, and so, on January 11,2008, I came down from my hometown to wait and wait and wait for labor to begin. It seemed like forever, but really baby came right on time. On the 24th, 2 days after the projected due date, Jennifer mentioned some pains in the evening. They ended up fading out before bed time, and so we would wait another day. The same thing happened on the night of the 25th, and I was afraid the baby would make a habit out of it. I went to bed determined to get rest just in case. I told my mom my bet was on 7:00 pm the next day.
4:45 am ....January 26, 2008....
Beep beep. You have an incoming text.
My head popped off my pillow so fast I surprised myself!
"It's showtime. '" .
With the go ahead, I got dressed and headed up to her place ... but not before I slipped on ice and hurt my back. Oh great! I thought,'Now I'm going to be achy while trying to help out! When I got there at 6:20 am, things were going well, and Jennifer was managing with leaning on the kitchen counters and breathing steadily. The midwife got there a little after 8:00 and we found that Jen was at a 4. So far, so good.
3 hour later the contractions were bringing about more groaning and even stronger urges to push than before. The second check was somewhat discouraging as she was still at a 4. Bummer. It was time to get to work. "I don't know how much longer I can do this." I imagine Jennifer had to be disheartened to feel like no progress had been made. The next hour was spent using squatting to open the pelvic outlet and encouraging the water to break. It was hard work, very hard work. After quite a few contractions, she got nauseous and threw up. "Good, good!" Rebecca, the midwife, explained that vomiting helps dilate the cervix really well. She was right. Jennifer was now over an 8.
The decision was made to break the water, as they have a family history of strong amniotic sacks. Oh boy was there a ton of water! I jerked my foot out of the way so as not to get wet ... .it splashed much more than I expected! Jen had been keeping hydrated really well which helped her keep up her stamina throughout the birthing process. It was beautifully clear. There was no sign of meconium at all, only a little vernix. "Oh I feel better!" exclaimed Jennifer. "Can I push now?"
Rebecca encouraged her to try pushing for a little while. With the water broken, the head comes down and puts more pressure on the cervix which usually opens it more. Not every cervix is the same though. Pushing was unproductive, and we needed to know what was going on in there. Apparently, instead of opening the cervix when the head came down, it pulled more cervix down with it. We were back at a 6! It was so very discouraging. Jennifer looked like she was going to bawl. I felt so bad. She hopped into the bathtub to help ease up the pain a little. While she was in there, she groaned a groan that although not much different than any other, really struck me. That's Jennifer's voice. I knew it logically all along, but it finally tapped through to my emotions. I seemed to remember her like we were when we were little girls and I wanted to cry just thinking of what she was going through.
The next few hours were the hardest (from my point of view). Jennifer had an anterior lip that was preventing her from being able to push. She hadn't slept well for a few nights, had less and less energy, and was understandably tired. In addition, her appetite was non-existent, so all her energy was having to come from liquids. Resisting the urge to push was so difficult! Jennifer and John took a few minutes to say what I'm sure was a very fervent prayer. Despite how she felt, she kept remarkable composure throughout the entire labor. Between contractions she was calm and relaxed. During contractions she moaned in a low steady rhythm. It was amazing to see her coping skills!
After what seemed like a lifetime, the midwife was able to skillfully remove the lip. Thank Heavens! It was now okay to push. "I don't feel like pushing anymore," our very tired soon-to-be mom said. She was assured it was okay to take a few minutes to breathe, rest, and gain energy for the upcoming work.
Pushing was long but exciting. The first part we did while squatting. It takes two to hold up the woman, and it's a little bit of labor for us too! My back hurt so bad from slipping on the ice, and holding her up. My feet hurt too being on the hardwood floors of the living room. I kept thinking how much worse she felt than me; and did what I could. I was relieved every time she said she needed to stand as that meant that I could get a break too! Nikki, the other doula, mentioned that being a doula requires good squatting muscles.
Jennifer has a hooked pubic bone which made pushing longer than I expected it might be. It seemed like forever that the head would show through a little, and then slip back again. "Is anything out yet?!?" Jen was so tired. It was hard to believe all that pushing had only produced a little spot of head. Gradually the spot got bigger and bigger. I kept thinking to myself, okay, that must be where the forehead starts. It would get to that point and sure enough it was still just the top. I thought that about 4 different times. When it did get to the forehead, the eyes, ears, nose and mouth popped out with it. That's a big head ... his nose looks like John's! With the next push or two came the chin and the upper body. There was no cord around the neck. Then came the rest of the slippery purple body in a gush of blood and baby poo. It was beautiful! The baby was placed on my dear friend's stomach. The look in her eyes was priceless. I cried with joy. The baby pinked right up and breathed well, but didn't cry. Rebecca said something amounting to there being no need to cry being a homebirth baby that came into a warm, dark, loving environment. After a few moments, Jen checked the bottom and ... "we have a boy! Dimitri Jay!" What a wonderful moment! "DJ!" Nikki smiled. It was 7:35 pm. It took me a few minutes to realize my left leg was warm, damp, and covered in blood and poo. I had the front seat experience for sure!
After changing my pants, the placenta was birthed. It was also quite large. Things went fast from there. The new mom was moved to bed, the cord was cut after it stopped pulsing, texts and emails were sent out, the mess was cleaned, and things were wonderful.
Dimitri took to breastfeeding like a pro. Skin to skin contact was all he needed to get the general idea. After some family time together with the couple and their new son, we finished up with the paperwork business of height, weight, and so forth.
9 Ibs 4 oz, 21" long, and only a slight tear that didn't need stitching. So that's why Jen gained 40 pounds!
Jennifer, you are amazing my friend! In the words of Rebecca, you are a birth warrior! I love you and am so happy to have shared this experience with you. Thank you, and congrats on your beautiful new family!
With Love, Kels
I honestly think that if my friend had gone to a hospital, she would have gotten pitocin after the 2nd check that showed no improvement. I also believe she would have ended up with a cesarean because of her unique pubic bone shape. But she did it on her own....all 9 + pounds of him that they surely would have claimed CPD for.