Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jessica & Paul Gerritson

The Birth Story of
Lillian Gerritson
Parents: Jessica and Paul Gerritson
Told by April Millar

I am having a hard time figuring out where to start and how to describe this incredible birth. I know what Jessica’s dilation was at what time, I know what positions she was in, I know how we pushed on her back and talked her through each surge. But I don’t know what was going on within her body and her mind. I don’t know how she tapped into her incredible strength; I don’t know where her pure and full trust in Paul, in me, in her nurse Stephanie, and mostly in herself came from. I don’t know how she was communicating with her body and her baby as she fought through 11 hours of labor and complete exhaustion. I am going to bet that most all of that can’t even be described in English, because Jessica’s birth was felt and experienced through emotions and sensations.
Thursday night May 9th. I received a phone call from Paul at about 10pm, Jessica was definitely in labor and had been working hard for the past couple of hours. They both weren’t sure when to go to the hospital or how far she had progressed, so we decided that I would come to their house with the birth pool so Jessica could try that out. About 30 minutes later Paul called back to say that they were headed to the hospital and I was to meet them there. 11:00pm we arrive at the hospital, Jessica was doing wonderful through each surge. Taking her time she breathed nice and slow and went into her birthing body. I could tell each surge was powerful and really working her body. Once through triage they determined she was 4cm and paper thin, wonderful progress and in the full throws of labor.
             Jessica did a fantastic job changing positions regularly but she did find a few positions she definitely preferred. Any time she was on the toilet it was absolutely astounding how those surges she experienced while sitting there were so much stronger. Because she were able to release all her pelvic muscles each surge was harder and much more effective. Jessica also really enjoyed the bath, while in the tub she was able to relax more and calm her body. Jessica’s mom came at about 2am and was a wonderful help talking her through many of her surges. When not in the water Jess preferred being on her hands and knees, Paul and I tag teamed, he did the double hip squeeze while I added additional pressure on your back. Nurse Stephanie got in there too, she was fantastic with her physical and emotional help. (She was seriously one of the best nurses I have ever worked with). I was so amazed at how agile Jessica was the whole time while in labor, my favorite was when she was on her hands and knees she was complete and her baby was descending down almost to crowning when her doctor came in and wanted her to move to her back so he could check her. Jessica stood up on the bed with her hands still on the bed, with her rear-end high in the air and in a swift fluid motion she kicked her leg through and gracefully and gently ended up on her back. I swear if I didn’t know she had a baby head in between her legs I wouldn’t have believed it. It looked like she was just doing yoga, I was completely amazed!
As the night wore on she was working so hard and getting more and more exhausted, which was making it harder and harder for her body to want to work. Although she was progressing quickly, less than an hour per centimeter, which was wonderful! However, her confidence was cracking, all she wanted to do was sleep, she wasn’t sure if she could do it. One thing I do know, is that there were angels in that room helping her. I could feel them. I remember at one time I was pushing hard on her back and I was imagining that I was gathering all the energy from the earth and from heaven and surrounding Jessica and Lillian in a gorgeous white light when I had the thought that that white light wasn’t coming from very far away. I then felt some warmth on the back of my hands and the heat that came radiating through my palms was intense accompanied with a very strong pulse. I am sure there was much more help than I probably even realized.
Lillian actually descended very quickly and soon she was pushing. It was about 5 surges when little Lillian’s head popped out but with the cord wrapped twice around her tiny neck. With the swift action of your doctor he released the cord and in the next second Lillian was born and snuggling her mama at 5:54am the morning of May 10th.

With the cord being wrapped around her neck Lillian had a bowel movement out of trauma, not while she was in utero (because when Jessica’s waters released at about 8cm the fluid was clear but when she came out completely she was accompanied with meconium). Because of that they did take Lillian over to the newborn station to make sure she hadn’t swallowed anything. Daddy was right by her side the whole time touching her and talking to her, making sure she was all right.

Jessica did amazing, she needed a few stitches but not bad at all. Her entire attention was on her sweet baby asking every couple of minutes when she could hold her again. As soon as they brought Lillian back to Jessica it was the sweetest sight, oh my goodness did she know her mama!! She cuddled right up calmed right down and started to nurse like a pro! Honestly, I have seen some babies that nurse really well before but never have I seen a baby that new nurse the way she nursed! Her latch was perfect and she barely ever broke off, I was amazed.

Jessica said some pretty funny things throughout her labor, one of my favorites was when she was in the bathtub and the last time she had been checked she was at an 8, she was having the urge to push so Stephanie wanted to check you again. Jessica said to her, “Tell me I am done, but don’t lie to me.”

I have said it before and I will say it again, you were so strong and courageous, your birth was absolutely amazing and you have so many people who are so very proud of you! Congratulations! Lillian is perfect.

Sara Smith

The Birth Story of
Finn Smith
Parent: Sara Smith
Told by: April Millar, doula

February 26, 2013. It was clear from the beginning, Finn was going to choose his birthday. After weeks of pre labor, and a few trips to the hospital thinking it was the real deal, Sara woke up just before 1:00AM on the morning of the 26th with her water breaking. After gushing some water in various parts of the house she tried to get things together to leave for the hospital, she finally made it out the door and to the hospital at about 3:30AM. I got to the hospital at 5:00AM to join Sara and her mother. Dilated to a 3.5, the nurses were in the process of doing a PH test on the fluid to determine if her water did indeed release. (Like the six gushes of fluid on her bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen floors didn’t prove anything). When the PH test turned out to be inconclusive they did a culture test, which came back positive, and for good measure they did a third swab test to break the tie. And wouldn’t you know it, the bag of waters had definitely broken.

            Labor inevitably started and Sara’s contractions came, sporadic at first and not too strong, she was able to talk through them. We got comfortable thinking it would be awhile. Her mom fed her from the “nourishment center” with crackers and juice. When that turned out not to be enough at 8:00AM she went and got breakfast for us at McDonalds, nothing like an Egg McMuffin to get your energy up for having a baby. With a mouth full of breakfast sandwhich Sara made the prediction that baby Finn was coming at 2:06PM.

            By 11:00AM Sara was dilated to a 4.5, and they started her on pitocin. Just a low dose and gradually her contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and definitely strengthening. By this time she had moved to the birth ball and needed to concentrate on relaxing through each contraction. But in between she kept up a conversation like nothing else was happening. It was incredible to see. Much of the morning Sara described her contractions as just pressure! So wonderful!

At  12:45 nurse Jeanine (I just need to go on a small tangent, Jeanine was amazing!! She did a fabulous job. She gave wonderful advice and information. She helped you through contractions; she was just a pleasure in the room!) She checked her to find she was dilated to a 5.5. Just after this things started to get really intense, Sara moved up to the bed positioned on her hands and knees. She was’t talking much but at about 1:15-1:20 she made the comment that she thought she was going to have a bowel movement. I knew this was a really good sign. Although because Sara had just been checked a half hour before and being dilated to a 5.5 I wasn’t sure if her baby was positioned for her to push him out yet. I called nurse Jeanine to tell her that Sara was wanting to push. It was at that time that Sara was done. “I think I want an epidural.” She said. “You think? I am not going to get you an epidural unless you know you want one.” Jeanine responded. With new resolve Sara made it through a few more body trembling contractions when she exclaimed, “Ok, I definitely want an epidural!” Jeanine left to go get the anesthesiologist as she lamented, “I thought I could do it, but I can’t. It’s too much, I can’t.” Sitting on her knees with her head down, crestfallen. Jeanine came back with the news: “The anesthesiologist just went in with another lady but she is really fast, she’ll be here in about 15 minutes.” Sara were dismayed, 15 more minutes!? She didn’t think she could do it for another 15 minutes. We assured her that she could absolutely do it, because she had been doing it, it was only a few more contractions. Jeanine really wanted to check her first because we knew Sara had been pushing. It took some coaxing and maneuvering; Sara definitely did not want to move, (I don’t blame her one bit) to get her to a slanted position to check the baby. The anesthesiologist walked in so her mother, Jen and sister, Megan walked out of the room, (they told us only one person was aloud in the room when administering the epidural so I stayed with her.) At the same moment she walked in we lifted Sara’s leg up while she lay on her side, to see that baby Finn was well on his way out! We are talking his head was a good two inches past crowning! The anesthesiologist walked right back out, hitting the call button for the nurses on her way out. In rushed a half dozen nurses. Jeanine only had one glove on and needed someone to put her other glove on as she held baby Finn’s head with one hand. A few seconds later Finn was born, 1:39PM! No time to call the doctor, her nurse delivered her baby.

“I DID IT???  I DID IT!!!!” Sara exclaimed. She couldn’t believe that she had done it! Her mom and sister ran back in the room, shocked that there was a baby there! I think we were all kind of shocked, the tears of happiness started to flow from all of us.

Sara did an absolutely incredible job! It was one of the most amazing births I have ever witnessed. That Finn of her’s is one special boy.


Ashley and Justin Andrew

The Birth Story of
Jason Rodney Andrew
Parents: Justin & Ashley Andrew
Told by: April Millar, doula

I think everyone knew sweet baby Jason was a special spirit, but none more so than his mama and daddy. There were so many special spiritual experiences surrounding the development and birth of baby Jason. I have never known parents who understand so deeply that they were already parents to their unborn child and sought revelation for each situation that arose to help make their decisions. Both Ashley and Justin were very much bonded with this baby and trusted their intuition completely.

            Ashley had been having issues with high blood pressure making it a concern for her health care providers. They put her on bed rest and Justin and Ashley fasted and prayed for answers on how this baby needed to come, seeing that there was a chance the natural unmedicated birth they desired was in jeopardy.
Ashley, being the intuitive person she is, felt impressed that there was a strong association with past health issues she had had. Which would effectively complicate things with delivery if they didn’t take action soon. The decision to induce at 39 weeks was made.

            Wednesday evening June 11th Justin and Ashley made their way to the hospital. They were admitted around 9:00PM to get a few rounds of cervix ripener on Ashley before being induced with Pitocin the next morning. Because they were admitted to the hospital it was expected they were to stay the night there, unsurprisingly being in a hospital they got very little sleep.

            The next morning Ashley was started with Pitocin, and already having regular pressure waves. Justin was texting me to keep me updated with all the going-ons and dealings with the medical staff.  Around 7:00AM he told me the Dr. had come in and said he was going to rupture Ashley’s membranes in an hour. I got incredibly nervous, what? Why?? Rupture her membranes?? Now? When she was so early in her labor presenting only at a 3???  Supposedly it was to get things going. I wasn’t at the hospital yet, and as I was pressing Justin for more details. He admitted he wasn’t sure if the Dr. said rupture or strip her membranes (two very different things). Even now I’m not sure what the intentions of the Dr. were but I told Justin if he brings out a crochet looking hook to not let him rupture her membranes. Of course it wasn’t my decision to make but through my communication with Justin he assured me Ashley and baby were doing great and there was no medical need to speed up the process. Thankfully it was avoided and her bag of waters were not artificially ruptured.
            I arrived at the hospital close to 10:00AM and Ashley was already exhausted and labor was hard active labor. Justin and I got in there and tried hard to help her feel any measure of comfort as she labored. Putting lots of counter pressure on her back and hips, helping her change positions; semi-reclined, hands-and-knees, birth ball, standing and swaying. Ashley was laboring so well. It was at about 11:30AM when her nurse (Linda) came in and I asked her how they could tell when Ashley’s body was producing her own oxytocin labor hormones and the Pitocin wasn’t needed? “Well, we can only know that if we turn off the Pitocin and she still progresses.” Ok, can we try that? Turn the Pitocin off?

[I really want to stress here, PITOCIN LABOR IS NOT THE SAME AS A WOMAN’S REGULAR LABOR HORMONES! IT IS SOOOOO MUCH HARDER!!!!! And because of the Pitocin Ashley was experiencing incredibly difficult very chemically painful contractions almost as soon as labor began….already for many hours!]

Reluctantly nurse Linda turned down the Pitocin from an 8 to a 4. “I will come back in one hour and check and if she hasn’t changed I will have to turn it back up.”
Unfortunately nurse Linda was not a great supporter of natural childbirth, and carried a very contentious aura about her. Ashley said later that she could be having a pressure wave with her eyes closed not even consciously aware that Linda walked into the room and her contraction would hurt more. Ashley very obviously would tense up more when Linda was around. With good reason, within an hour or two of her shift Linda made some incredibly disrespectful comments even affectively making Ashley cry. Hindsight I think both Ashley and Justin would have liked to have requested a different nurse. But it was hard to tell she negatively affected things so much while in the moment. Looking back it was clear.
The Pitocin was turned down and Ashley continued to labor regularly. An hour went by and Linda was back immediately to check out the progression.
“Well you are still at a 4 and 80% effaced. You haven’t changed so I am going to have to turn the Pitocin back up.” Justin responded with “Linda, can we please keep it down? Ashley’s labor is clearly still going, she is having regular contractions. And she is progressing in other ways not just dilation.”
Linda pretty much ignored him. Ashley was clearly offended that Linda would ignore her husband like that and her already potent ‘mama bear’ instincts kicked in “No! You said you could keep it down if I progressed. You just told me I was 80% effaced that is more than last time! I have progressed!!”
“Hmmm, I guess you are right, I did write down that you were 65% effaced last time. Well, progress is progress so I will keep it turned down.” Finishing with an air in her voice like she was going to bat for them and doing them some huge favor.
It was at about 1:00PM, Ashley was laboring on the birth ball moaning through her very intense pressure waves. At one point Ashley whimpered with a little laugh in her voice, “I am losing all my body functions, I just peed myself!”
“Do you want to go sit on the toilet for a bit?”

Ashley moved to the toilet and that’s when things started to really became excruciating. Sobbing now she told Justin “I think I want an epidural, I can’t do this anymore.” “Are you sure? You can get an epidural, that’s no problem, just know that once you make that decision you can’t go back.” Quietly they discussed. I went to go get the mothers for additional support because I needed to pump. When we all got back into the room we helped Ashley onto the bed and supported her for another 15minutes before she was sure, she definitely wanted an epidural. 

She felt a little defeated. I hope she knows what an amazing feat she did! She labored with hard Pitocin labor for over 6 hours on NO sleep. She was exhausted and with very good reason! Even the best couldn’t have done what she did.
The anesthesiologist came in and did a great job. Quick and kind he cracked a few jokes and helped Ashley feel at ease. As soon as the epidural kicked in we all cleared the room so she (and Justin) could get some sleep. It was the best thing, Ashley was able to rest and regain her strength and at about 6:30PM she was complete and baby Jason was making his way down. 
At this point there was a shift change and nurse Linda was gone, and nurse Deb came with a much better presence. While exchanging information between the two nurses one made the comment that she couldn’t feel the bag of waters. It then clicked! “Ashley!” I exclaimed, “When you were sitting on the ball and said you had peed yourself, your water had broken!!!!” Oh my goodness, it made so much sense now I don’t know why I didn’t realize before that it was her water. Especially because it was right after that that her labor shifted and it became unbearable.

Ashely’s Doctor, Dr. Tees came in to check on things and announced that Jason was posterior. With his hand inside up to his wrist he manually turned Jason’s head to be facedown.
Soon it was time to push, it was wonderful because they turned off the Pitocin and epidural so it would wear off and Ashley would be able to feel some of what was going on. She pushed very well, Justin on one side me on the other helping her hold up her legs. Her wonderful mother, mother-in-law, and sweet sister Amanda were all invited into the room to be present for the birth.
            Because it was right around a shift change two of Ashley’s doctors were in and around helping and checking; Dr. Wolsey and Dr. Tees. Ashley made sure all who came knew that she absolutely did not want an episiotomy, she would much rather tear on her own if that was the case. Nurses and Doctors seemed to have a well, we shall see approach to her request. Expounding on circumstances on why she may need to have an episiotomy. No. She assured them she did not want it.

            A little while later Dr. Tees checked and again Jason’s head wasn’t quite facedown so he turned him again. This time Jason stayed. Around 8:00PM Jason was getting really close and Ashley was doing a fabulous job pushing. Jason was crowning but descending back up the birth path quite a bit between pressure waves. When Dr. Wolsey came in he was concerned that Jason was going so far back and said that it may be shoulder dystocia. Right after that he said, “Well your baby has been in the birth canal a while now which isn’t good, (although babies heart rate was still great) at this point I would perform an episiotomy to quickly get him out but because you prefer not to we will see what happens in a few more contractions.”
Sweet Ashley pushed with everything she had in her and out came baby Jason in a little bundle of perfection! 8:23PM. Immediately it was though the ground became hallowed with Jason’s arrival as grandmas and auntie silently wept at the miracle that was just witnessed. 

He was passed to Ashley as she became overwhelmed with the emotion pouring from her soul. And Justin; the picture of honor as he stood protectively over his little family.

It was as though the room became silent and time stood still for Jason was here and becoming reacquainted with his parents whom he had clearly known before. It was beautiful to see him become completely calm when he was laid upon his mothers chest, periodically stretching his head back so he could look into her face. Keeping a constant hold on his daddy’s finger.

            “Well,” Dr. Wolsey proclaimed as he stood up to relinquish his chair to Dr. Tees who was now on call, “You tore.” Implying that he was right, and that she would have been better off with an episiotomy. Dr. Tees took a seat to stitch up the tear and was amazed “There is barely a tear here. This looks great!” I don’t know about Ashley, but there was a smug smile on my face. Of course Ashley barely tore, she is extraordinary!

Congratulations on bringing such a darling little guy into this world. And thank you for letting me be there, I feel so blessed.