Avista’s Birth

Avista is my second daughter but my first baby using the methodology Marie teaches. To demonstrate the night and day experiences between her birth and my first daughter, Indeka’s, I’ll give you a brief account of my first birthing experience.

With my first baby, labour began on my due date around 11 pm when my water broke. I was admitted to the hospital around midnight since my water had broken and they wanted to monitor me. I dozed on and off through the night since I wasn’t feeling much for contractions yet. In the morning, my husband and the nurse helped me to walk around the unit, take bathroom breaks and sit in the tub. Around noon, the doctor told me I wasn’t progressing fast enough and they recommended starting me on Pitocin.

I didn’t know what that was, but trusted the doctor and agreed to the IV. They kept increasing the dose when I still wasn’t progressing fast enough until eventually, the contractions were so hard and painful that I asked for an epidural.

That made everything better, or so I thought. At least I couldn’t feel the pain anymore. But they still kept increasing the Pitocin.

Around 6 o’clock, the nurse instructed me to start pushing. I couldn’t feel anything below my breasts so pushing was difficult, I couldn’t feel the muscles that I needed to use. I pushed for 3.5 hours until she was born at 9:41 pm, 5 lbs 13 oz, 19 inches long, assisted by a vacuum. The cord was wrapped around her neck, she wasn’t breathing properly, she was an odd shade of blue and they rushed her to the NICU. I had such bad tears that I required a lot of stitches and couldn’t go to the NICU until around 11 pm to see her but didn’t get to hold her until the next day. Then I was told that she had a high white blood cell count which could be a sign of infection, so she would have to remain in the NICU for at least a week.

I spent 2 days in the hospital before I asked to go home. As soon as we got into our house, I just laid down on the couch and cried. I was overcome with worry, fear, and guilt. I spent much of my time at the hospital with her but every time I left, I cried for my baby who had to stay behind. I felt like I had done something wrong, that I had already failed as a mother, and that it was my fault that my baby had to stay in the NICU. Even after she was pronounced healthy, with no infection, just a traumatic birth (no kidding!) and we got to take her home, I looked back at the whole experience as a negative. I was very apprehensive about having another.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy. I was determined to create a different experience this time around. So I invested in Marie’s course because I wanted to learn techniques that would help me cope with labour more successfully. The best part: the techniques actually made me VERY RELAXED during my pregnancy. That was a good added bonus!

Fast forward to Sunday, October 11. I was 40 weeks and counting. I had passed my doctor’s guess date AND the date that I thought she would arrive, so I was getting anxious to hold my new baby girl in my arms! Her big sister Inde was also very excited about her arrival and becoming a big sister. Everyone was ready to meet her and I was ready to NOT be pregnant anymore!

I gained about the same amount of weight as I did with Inde (60lbs!!) but my stomach was gigantic! I outgrew most of my pregnancy clothes and had only a few shirts and dresses and one pair of pants that were still comfortable. I was done with pregnancy and ready to be a mommy again. The day passed like any other, but around 8 o’clock I was laying down with Inde and began to feel some surges. I had been feeling practice surges since July, but these felt different.

They kept coming with regularity and I just stayed in bed with Inde for an hour or so until she was asleep, breathing through the surges and imagining my body opening up, softening and bringing my baby to me. I got up around 9:30 and told my husband, who was ill, that our baby was coming soon!

Since he wasn’t feeling well and this was just the beginning, I told him to go to bed and get some sleep.

I went back out to the living room and sat on my yoga ball, rocking and breathing through the surges as they got closer and more intense.

Marie’s note: doing circles on the birth ball during labour is really helpful for moving baby into an optimal position.

I had been listening to the relaxation recordings every night at bedtime and fell asleep listening to them. I put one of them on as I rocked on my ball, crouched against my couch and breathed, imagining my baby coming to me.

I was so excited and nervous but also calm and in control. It was lovely.

I began timing the surges around midnight and by 2:30 am they were coming every 3-4 minutes and were getting more intense. I called my mom because she was going to come to watch Inde while Roy and I went to the hospital.

My little sister answered the phone and nearly shattered my eardrum with her happy shriek “Are you having a baby tonight?!?”

My mom and sister arrived just before 3 am to find me still on my yoga ball, gently rocking, breathing deeply through the surges. When my mom found out how close the surges were, she told me to immediately get to the hospital! I knew I still had plenty of time, but I woke Roy up and told him that things were moving along and we should maybe go to the hospital soon.

He woke right up then, illness forgotten and rushed around getting dressed and throwing things together to take with us. We got to the car, made it a block and realized we’d forgotten my purse with all the important information in it. We zipped around the block, him driving unnecessarily fast, and he ran back inside. I waited, breathing and imagining my body opening like a flower. He jumped back in the car and drove as fast as he could to the hospital, which normally is a 6-8 minute drive. We made it in 3, thankfully not getting pulled over for crazy driving.

Once we got upstairs, the nurses told me I was 7 cm dilated and showed me to my room. I talked to my nurse about my care preferences for labour, and she was absolutely amazing and so supportive! She went and got me a birthing ball right away. My husband set up the relaxation recording to play in the background as I alternated between the ball, the bath and the bed for the next 6 hours.

After that, I found that being in the tub made my surges really intense and preferred to be on my hands and knees on the bed or in some position on the ball. I think I may have invented a few new poses, although I can’t remember them now!

Marie’s note: laying over the ball is a good way to be on your hands and knees without pressure on the wrists.

I just went with what my body felt was right, always imagining a flower blooming, and whatever helped me breathe through each surge. There were times when I wanted to cave and get an epidural, but I always remembered the terrible sciatic pain that I experienced as a side-effect of the epidural with my first delivery and just focused on getting through each surge to the next one.

I was so determined this time to have a baby without drugs or assistance. The memory of that first birth was so depressing that I couldn’t face that possibility and instead turned that determination into strength.

I also began talking to baby Avi (we had already decided on her name), saying her name, coaxing her out, and telling her how much we loved her and wanted to hold her.

Throughout the night and morning, my husband massaged me, read our relaxation scripts, gave me water and did whatever I asked to help me birth our daughter.

Despite being somewhat unsure of himself, he was fantastic! I couldn’t ask for a better partner.

Around 10 am I felt a large gush of fluid and was so excited that the waters had finally released.

Unfortunately, there was meconium in the fluid, so the nurse called the team to take care of her once she was born. My doctor’s alternate was on call and the nurse paged her to let her know Avi was coming.

I had been feeling the urge to breathe her down for some time now and could feel that she was close, so I kept up the breathing and also used my stomach muscles to help move her down.

When the doctor told me to push, I kept breathing and noticed I was also moaning, almost growling from what I remember, and the noises helped me to focus my energy. They were helping me bring my baby into the world!

A few more breaths and Avista Cathryn was born at 10:37 am. She was 7 lbs 7 oz, 21 inches long and had a head full of beautiful dark hair and big blue eyes.

Her initial Apgar score was low, but once the team cleaned her airways, it was nearly perfect and we were left alone with just the doctor waiting for the afterbirth and my amazing nurse. As a bonus, I had no tears and required no stitches!!! YAY! I was in such a good mood, on such a wonderful natural high and I felt great!

Tired and slightly sore but happy and excited more than anything. I was ecstatic that I had pulled off my natural birth!

Nursing happily after birth

After I did have a complication with the placenta not releasing. I believe this could have been avoided if the doctor had been more patient and if she had not pulled on the umbilical cord. As grateful as I am to hospitals, doctors and nurses for their excellent care in emergencies, I am saddened by their medical approach to birth and their tendency to rush through the process.

Make sure you choose a care provider who has the same philosophy of birth as you do!

All the same, I wouldn’t trade my birthing experience for anything.

Everyone at the hospital all commented on how well I had done with my breathing and how calm I was through delivery.

It was the birth I had wanted and I am so proud of it! I was so happy that I was able to avoid drugs and Avi was alert and content from the moment she was born.

Thank you, Marie, for everything! For all of your support, wisdom, encouragement and knowledge, I am incredibly grateful.

If you enjoyed reading this story, you might also like this article about birth


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