I had read Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin and had decided to have a midwife attended birth this time. My insurance would not cover homebirths. My local hospital, Emerson Hospital, did not have midwives so I found a midwifery practice at a nearby hospital on my train line.
When I was 32 weeks pregnant we took a trip to New York to attend a friend's wedding. It was a tough trip by public transportation. My husband was in the wedding party so he had a lot of obligations. I was left on my own a lot.
After the wedding, just as we started to head home, I started bleeding. We didn't know if I would make it all the way back to Massachusetts by public transportation, about a 6 hour trip.
|Carle Place, NY train station|
[Side note: Thirteen years later we moved to New York a couple blocks from the Carle Place train station, and about 1 mile from this wedding venue]
I started taking prenatal exercise classes and found out about Bradley childbirth classes there. I decided to take Bradley classes even though I had already given birth once. By the time I found a class I could get to by public transportation, there wasn't enough time to complete the 12 weeks of classes before my "due date." We started taking the classes anyway and the instructor said she could do an accelerated version. Still, we spent one whole class discussing the benefits of eggs. That was our last class before I started having bloody show at 35 weeks.
I went in to see one of my midwives to get checked out. It was determined that my water hadn't broken but she was concerned about the bleeding. She put me on "house arrest" also known as modified bed rest. I skipped my Bradley class that afternoon and later that night I had some contractions. I spent the entire time I was having contractions trying to convince my husband things were really starting. They weren't at all painful but I could tell that we were having a baby sooner rather than later. My husband still thought it wouldn't be for another month.
Patriot's Day in Concord. My oldest son was marching in the parade with the Concord Museum. I got a ride to the parade so I didn't have to walk.
I had loose ends I needed to tie-up. I made a bank deposit and took care of some important business at my store. My parents and brother were in Concord for the parade and they made a trip to Kimball's Farm for banana splits. I went along for the ride and split a split with them.
I was extremely tired when I got home. I could barely eat dinner. I went to bed early. I woke up abruptly at 3:15am when my water broke. I wasn't having any contractions, at least none that I could feel, but I was shivering uncontrollably. We called the midwife on call and she said that I should stay home for a while since I wasn't having contractions yet. I said I was nervous since the baby was early and I wanted to get to the hospital "just in case." I wanted a chance to get settled in too. She said it would be okay for me to come in.
Since we don't have a car we had planned for my aunt, who is also an RN, to give us a ride. She was about 20 minutes away. I got ready to go while waiting for her. I started having contractions at around 3:45am as I got dressed. Every time I moved at all I would have another contraction. They were already strong enough that I couldn't talk while I was having one. I had to breathe slowly and focus inward to get through them.
There was a light rain as we left for the hospital, a 15 minute drive away. The contractions continued in the car. At one point I asked my husband and aunt in the front seat why the contractions were so close together. I didn't get an answer.
We got to the hospital and went to the check-in at the ER. There was a man ahead of us with a toe injury. I sat patiently in a wheelchair waiting to be checked in. I was pretty fully in "labor land" by that time and very inwardly focused. Eventually the woman at the check-in figured out how far along in labor I was by how close my low moans were coming. She said that we should go straight up to labor and delivery "just in case." She called up and said that she was sending up a woman in "hard labor."
We tried to get on the elevator but it was broken. I don't actually remember how we got upstairs but I'm guessing we found another one that was working.
I was given a hospital gown to put on but I preferred to stay naked. The nurses ended up just draping it over one knee. I was examined and found to be fully effaced, 8cm dilated, and the baby at a zero station. It was now 4:30am.
In the midst of all of this one of the nurses approached me with paperwork to sign giving permission to immediately give my baby the Hepatitis B shot. I have zero memory of the conversation because I was so far into labor by this point. It wasn't until I watched the video later that I found out about it. I was appalled! The nurse said something like "all the babies are doing it." Then to my horror, I saw myself sign the paperwork.
A neonatologist was called in to be at the birth "just in case." He was still half asleep and had some serious bed head going on.
As I started to push, the nurses started counting. My midwife asked them to stop and let me push on my own based on what my body was telling me like I described in my birth plan. At one point there was panic because the fetal monitor was picking up a slow heartbeat. Thankfully, my midwife figured out that the baby had just moved really far down and the monitor was now picking up my heartbeat. Still, they decided to give me oxygen "just in case," something else I didn't want.
The hospital had boasted about "rooming in" on the tour. In reality, this wasn't what they encouraged. They tried to keep Frankie in the nursery as much as possible and kept telling me that I wanted to get as much sleep without him as possible. I was too elated immediately after birth to sleep anyway and even later on I couldn't sleep while separated from Frankie.
The first night in the hospital Frankie was very agitated. He wouldn't just nurse and sleep peacefully. I had to get up out of bed with him and walk around to calm him down. Every time he heard one of the other babies crying down the hall he would cry too.
When Frankie was just 2 weeks old he came to work with me to work a party at the store. I continued to work, both with Frankie and while he stayed home with my husband.
Today Frankie turned 17 years old. Happy Birthday, Frankie! It seems like it was just yesterday.