Our Birth Story

Monday, April 13

Contractions began at 2:37 a.m. I woke to go to the bathroom and after returning to bed felt a “tightening.” I wondered if this was a contraction… and decided to record the time just in case. Several minutes later, another. Is this real, is this our birth day? Contractions continued throughout the evening. As they were not overly intense, I tried to rest between them and noted the time when they came. Sleep was attempted but not successfully attained. Cody and I both put messages into work letting them know we would not be in. Around 10 am the contractions weakened and became more sporadic. They continued throughout the day, but did not hinder daily actions. I put in a few hours of work and went for a walk with my mama before heading to my 41 week appointment with our midwife. After an exam, she confirmed I was 1 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Our babe was also in a +1 station, very low in the pelvis. We headed home and prepared to get a good night’s rest knowing that the moment we would welcome our child was soon approaching.

Tuesday, April 14

I fell asleep around 10 pm and woke at 12:38 am to a contraction. Contractions came several minutes apart but felt stronger and more on purpose than those from the previous day. After about an hour I decided to get out of bed and walk around to encourage the contractions to come regularly. Cody sat with me throughout the early morning hours in our living room. Around 4 am I got into the shower and contractions were coming in waves every couple of minutes. We decided it was time to go. I called our photographer, Cody loaded the car, and we were on our way.

6:00 AM (ish)

We checked into the Reedsburg Area Medical Center’s Birth Center. It was important for us to labor at home as long as possible. I did not want to spend hours laboring at the hospital. I was hopeful that when they checked me, I would have made good progress at home. When the nurse informed me that I was 5 cm dilated, I was happy. We were half way there, and contractions were coming regularly and strong. The nurse filled the tub with water and my and baby’s vitals were wonderful. We’d soon be holding our baby!

The tub was a relief. The warm water felt good and “cushioned” me during contractions. Shortly after getting in, my friend/photographer arrived, then my mother.

15D-Pulvermacher066 copyMy focus was on Cody and the contractions. When I would think about my labor during pregnancy, my fear was that I would get scared, that I would tense up and not work with my body. Thinking back about my labor, I can happily say, I didn’t get scared of the contractions, I was in control of my labor, and was well supported by those around me. The contractions were doing the work, preparing my body to deliver our baby. At one point I left the tub to empty my bladder and sat on the toilet for a couple of contractions. After leaving the bathroom, and returning to the labor room, the song that came up on my iPod’s “pregnancy” playlist was Garth Brook’s Mom. I held on to Cody and rocked with him as this song threw me into emotion. The words hit home now more than ever, soon we’d be meeting our baby. Soon, this baby would be meeting their Mom. I wept, I sang. I rocked with my husband, The contractions continued in waves.

15D-Pulvermacher136I got back into the tub and between contractions rested. The playlist continued and I sang along with the songs. Focusing on the lyrics helped relax me and pass time between contractions. Rachel joked that I could sell the playlist. At moments, it almost seems choreographed with songs like Mom, Let Her Go, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and a set of classics from Mozart. Apparently the music moved more than just me and our emotions were felt by all those in the room.

Our audience grew throughout my labor. Cody’s mom arrived. We also granted permission for two student nurses to observe. It was a kindness I wanted to extend based on my reading and research. Many in the OB field never get to 15D-Pulvermacher046witness natural child-birth. Who knows where these nurses will end up, perhaps in a facility that has high rates of intervention-lead births, rather than mother-lead births. I could allow them to see how it could be. Also in the room were my midwife and two nurses. 10 of us fit into that small space, but I was cushioned by the water, focusing only on Cody. It didn’t matter who was there. I never felt crowded or overwhelmed or exposed. And I think it was an experience for those present.

Between contractions, if I wasn’t resting, I was trying to maintain my humor. I asked my midwife at one point to just reach in and pull our baby out. I made conversation with my husband and watched the emotion on his face as he supported me the best he could. I listened to the conversations taking place in the room. I remember looking down and noticed my belly button was no longer stretched, it had returned, and there was a large gap from chest to baby bump. It was fun to witness the changes and realize how awesome our bodies are, how this incredible design of God’s works so perfectly.

Time to Push!

15D-Pulvermacher203At one point my contractions became something more. I recalled reading that your body will tell you when to push. It does! It did! I resisted however. I didn’t want to push if I wasn’t yet fully dilated. With the next contraction, my midwife checked me and pushed back the remaining rim of my cervix. I was given the green light to push on the next contraction. The urge was incredible. It literally lifted me from the tub. With a water birth, it’s important to stay under the water completely, and its also important for my midwife to be able to monitor progress and see everything so they had me turn sideways in the tub, this gave me more leverage to push against the sides. My mother was behind me, my husband and midwife in front. I was supported and I was on the verge of welcoming my child.

Contractions continued, and while they were intense, they were short. I pushed and roared (literally–the low noises escaping me were raw and animalistic) but once the contraction stopped, so did I. I relied on the contractions for strength. Despite the encouragement from those around me to keep pushing, I stopped once the contraction was over.

15D-Pulvermacher051During this entire time, following each contraction the nurse checked the baby’s heart rate with the doppler. In the back of my mind I feared hearing the words “the baby’s heart rate is dropping.” Those words never came. With each check of my babe, the heart rate boomed loud and steady for all to hear. It never once wavered, there was never any distress. The student nurse assisting us made a great statement that filled me with joy. “Listen to that strong heart beat. This baby loves their mama.”

We were so close. My babe was nearly crowning. As we got to this point, some fear did set in. With each push I felt my bottom stretching, knew I was about to tear, and as a result I timidly approached my next contractions. Out loud, in that room full of people, I prayed for strength. I talked to myself, reminding me, that I could do this, that only I could do this.

I knew I was going to tear. I knew I’d have to feel more pain that I had up to this point before it would be over. With the next contraction, I gave more of myself and pushed . My babe’s head emerged as I tore. And the contraction was over. There s/he was, so close to exiting. And we waited, waited for the next contraction, which took several minutes.

9:44 a.m.

15D-Pulvermacher245With the next and final contraction, I pushed our baby out. In a fluid motion, our baby entered the tub into our midwife’s hands. She immediately brought our child to my chest, into my arms. It was surreal. And the pain was gone. Replaced by awe and love and gratitude. I was holding our baby, our healthy, beautiful baby. A baby with a head full of dark hair and stormy blue eyes. A babe that let out a cry the moment it broke the water’s surface. My jaw dropped, the tears rolled, my heart swelled.

I looked at my husband. His look, his reaction was one I wanted to see and witness. Together he and I created this life, 15D-Pulvermacher268together we prepared for the arrival, and together we labored and anticipated. He was happy, proud, emotional, and relieved. He was in the moment with me. In that moment in time, the three of us were the only ones who existed.

My babe was in my arms facing toward me, still connected to the umbilical cord. We did not yet know the gender. My midwife asked if we were ready to find out. I held our babe for a moment longer and remember thinking to myself, “I don’t feel a penis!” I lowered our babe and revealed to the room that we had a daughter. I was so in love. She was absolutely perfect.

15D-Pulvermacher259I turned to Cody and asked him a question I had asked him many times before, “what are we going to do with a girl?” This was our inside joke. …we have decided we are going to raise her to be smart and hate boys!

:-))

Cody cut the cord then took our sweet angel to meet her grandmothers.

Aftermath

The staff helped me out of the tub and to the bed. This is when the second phase of labor began for me, though I can adamantly say, I’d take child-birth again and again over the aftermath of our daughter’s birth.

15D-Pulvermacher293In short, my uterus was done. It did its job, it expelled my little girl. But usually, afterwards, it is supposed to keep working, continue contracting to stop the bleeding and shrink down. Mine was tired. So the bleeding would not stop. Getting the bleeding under control was priority 1. A nurse approached me with a needle in her hand and was heading for my arm. I drew back and told her “no!” She looked at me with astonishment. My midwife said, “Lori, we have to. It’s pitocin, we need your uterus to contract.” I begrudgingly permitted and laid my head back thinking how ironic it was that I went through my full labor and birth without medication only to have it administered now. But fine, do what you have to do to me. My baby is out, she is here, and God willing nothing will enter her system.

15D-Pulvermacher318The nurse returned to insert an IV. She prepped my arm, warned me of the impending poke, and stuck me. She missed. Puzzled, she attempted again at a different location along my vein. Strike two. I was shocked. I have good veins, have never been missed. Turns out that the blood loss caused my veins to shrink/collapse making it pretty hard to get the IV in. After the botched attempt, the nurse returned with another needle, this time heading for the other arm.  I again protested, indicating that I already had a shot. My midwife popped up from between my legs and again pleaded to get the shot in me. I thought the IV was for fluids, but turns out the IV was attempted to hook me to a full bag of pitocin. Because they could not get the IV in, a second shot was administered. Guess I’d rather have the two small shots than a full bag dripping into my system.

The bleeding lightened and was under control. Now the focus turned to my tear. I wont’ go into the details on this, but it was a rough one. In most cases women tear to the back, I tore to the front, a “star-shaped” tear my midwife explained. An OB surgeon was brought in to do the repair. The process was awful and painful and two weeks later I am still working to get healed and be able to walk normally.

Connie Elizabeth

15D-Pulvermacher280For my baby girl, it was worth it. What ever had to happen to me is superficial and just a memory of the experience that ushered her into this world. Our sweet Connie Elizabeth arrived weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces, 20.5 inches long. My mother’s name is Connie, she now has a namesake. Elizabeth is Cody’s maternal grandmother’s name, but we all know her as Betty. I love traditional names, and this is a great way for us to honor some wonderful women in our lives. According to “name meanings,” Connie means strong-willed or wise. Elizabeth means God is satisfaction/oath of God.

I’d say she has a good foundation.

Our labor at the RAMC Birth Center was documented by Rachel Manzke Photography. To have this documentation is nothing short of a gift. Reviewing the images reminds me of the moments and while I recall my experience vividly now, as time passes, the images and videos will provide me with recall and flood me with the emotions we shared that amazing day.

Thank you to the wonderful nursing staff at RAMC who took such wonderful care of us and enabled us to live out our birth plan — a natural water birth. Our baby girl came into this world, lively. She latched right away for feeding and remained alert for hours after birth. Again, it was surreal.

Until you become a mother, you can never truly appreciate the sacrifice other women have made for their families. You also can not comprehend the overwhelming love, joy and pride a new parent has and holds for their child. To my mother, and all the mothers, bravo! You are amazing.

This next chapter of our lives is just beginning. Our sweet angel is two weeks old today and I am already wishing for time to slow down. The cliché that time flies is so true…. she changes each day, growing, strengthening. Everyday she showers me with love and smiles. Every day I am awe of her amazing soul, bonded to mine.

15D-Pulvermacher457My sweet Connie Elizabeth, thank you for the powerful gift of being a mother. You’ll never comprehend how much you consume me or how deep my love for you goes. Not until you welcome your own babe. (Which is many, many, many years from now!)

And thank you, Cody. My constant rock and fan. I’m excited for our new adventures together. Our lil family. What a blessing!

our lil family


Why I Am Choosing a Natural Birth

As shared in blog post “38 Weeks,” we had to have some monitoring throughout the first two trimesters of our pregnancy and take precautions due to my LEEP procedure in 2003.

22 weeksThe monitoring was far more intervention than what I desired. I would have preferred to not have had to have the ultrasounds, but when pregnant for the first time, you want to know you are doing what is necessary and take precautions. Even with the concern and increased monitoring, I was planning a natural birth, one I had always envisioned for myself.

I have hesitated many times to post this and prior to publishing it, I made numerous edits. Let me start by saying that the opinions and decisions outlined below are mine. I firmly believe we all must do what is best for us. This is what is best for me, my babe, my family. It is supported by my husband. We each have our own way and our own desires, in pregnancy, and in life. If anything, this post only serves to share why I am choosing a natural birth and provide a journal entry in my pregnancy journey. And perhaps, I’d also like to encourage those who are pregnant or who will become pregnant to do your research and know your options, know your rights.

As news spread about our pregnancy, the topic of labor/birth would come up on occasion. It was hard for some to understand how we could stand not knowing the gender of the baby, when clearly we could be told and plan accordingly. It was even more difficult for some to understand why we planned to approach labor as we did.

When I would reveal that I was planning a natural birth, without medications, I received varying looks and comments. “Why would you want to be in pain if you don’t have to be?” “I had an epidural and I would do it again.” “That’s nice, but you don’t always have a choice.” “You don’t get a medal for going drug-free, everybody gets a baby.” I even had women try to convince me that I won’t be able to get through labor, that I might have all good intentions now, but once that pain hits, I’ll change my mind and beg for the drugs. So here are my “top ten reasons” for choosing a natural, drug-free birth experience.

  1. My heart, gut and mind tell me it is the best choice for me and for my baby.20wks1day
  2. I want to be present. I want to experience childbirth and be in the moment. I don’t want to be medicated, nauseous, disoriented, or in any way detract from the power of my body’s natural release of hormones when my baby enters this world and I lay eyes on him/her for the first time.
  3. My fear of drugs is greater than my fear of pain. In the rare occasions I have taken medications in the past, they have made me nauseous or loopy. And the idea of a needle in my spine? No thank you!
  4. I do not want a caesarean. Based on my opinion and the numerous resources I have read, intervention leads to intervention, medication to medication, and in so many cases (not all), result in c-section. Should an emergency situation arise and a c-section is required, I will be grateful for life-saving intervention, but not until after exhausting all natural options.
  5. The women that came before me. We are designed by God and women have birthed for centuries, long before doctors and medicines and hospitals. We are designed to give birth, our bodies are capable of it, and we shouldn’t fear it.
  6. I don’t want those drugs in my baby. If drugs enter me, they enter my child. Just as I want to be alert and in the moment, I want the same for my baby. I plan to breastfeed and want to give my baby the opportunity to nurse right after birth and not be hindered by lingering drugs in their system (which can take weeks for their tiny liver to process).
  7. I want to move around, try various positions, and work with gravity. I do not want to be hooked up to machines and straps or be limited to laying down. I want the option to try the tub or shower, birthing ball or stool, standing, kneeling…what ever feels the best and proves to work. If I am comfortable, I believe my labor will be allowed to progress efficiently.
  8. I want to eat and drink and nourish my body during this event. A marathon runner wouldn’t limit their hydration and energy inputs during a race, so why would I feel I could be deprived of energy during labor? Many women are limited to ice chips during labor. Ice chips!? To maintain my stamina during childbirth, I intend to drink water and juices and perhaps eat energy-rich snacks to provide my body with the fuel it needs. If my energy falls, I risk losing the steam needed to cross the finish line, resulting in intervention.
  9. I believe labor will be faster, more controlled, and easier without intervention and medication. Call me crazy.
  10. I believe I can. With preparedness and support from my birth team, most noted, my husband, I’ll make it through labor and relish in my accomplishment.

We have selected a hospital that supports these desires and our birth plan. We’ll find satisfaction and security in our opportunity to birth naturally, with the conveniences of modern technology–should it be needed. We have a midwife, and I have asked numerous questions of her and discussed my desires so we are on the same page. And I have written my birth plan out to share with hospital support staff members. This also ensures I do not have to answer unnecessary questions and lets our nursing team know my wishes so they can best support me.

My greatest fear is that my birth plan won’t play out as —-well —- as I planned. That said, I am going into this with an open mind and with positivity. I do not want intervention, but should it be necessary, our plan will adjust. I know I need to be flexible and realize that labor is unpredictable. But I also know that because I have been working to prepare and educate myself for labor, I have given us every advantage in living out our birth plan.

It’s amazing to me to consider that women will spend more time researching a cell phone plan, car, or piece of furniture before buying it than they will with their own pregnancy and labor. I’ve been hungry for information and knowledge on this subject since learning we were pregnant. My decision was founded on my personal beliefs and internal instincts. I then fueled it with a lot of reading! Books, blogs, Facebook groups, various articles, etc. Here’s a list of the books that I have read throughout my pregnancy. There is so much information out there, no matter your preference, and much of it is free or very affordable. Gain knowledge!

  • _L3A2702_1Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
  • Ina May’s Birth Matters
  • Baby Designed by God (so much good info in this one!)
  • Birthing from Within: Guide to Childbirth Preparation
  • A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth
  • Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama: Practical Guide to Achieving a Drug-free Birth in a Hospital Setting
  • How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of your Doctor
  • Journey Into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth
  • Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife 
  • Pushed: The Painful Trust about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care 
  • Your Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy
  • The Expectant Father
  • What to Expect When You are Expecting
I also watched the documentary The Business of Being Born and multiple “natural birth” YouTube videos. Other ways I am caring for my pregnancy and preparing for labor:
  • Regular chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy treatments
    • I truly feel this is important and has been a contributing factor in my feeling good throughout pregnancy and being in good alignment, allowing my baby to be in a low, head-down position. And by “massage therapy” I mean, therapy, not just a spa treatment. My treatments manipulate muscles and promote alignment and reduction on stressed muscles.
  • Increase my intake of pregnancy power foods; opting for organic options as much as possible
  • Relaxation techniques (hypnobirthing)
  • Taking key prenatal vitamins (iron, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, DHA, D, C, Zinc, B) daily
  • Raspberry Leaf Tea
  • Prayer, optimism, and excitement

I’m not looking to debate my position or argue the best approach, again this is my decision.

I would enjoy hearing your stories and tips. Some of the most powerful information I have read has been the real-life examples of other women who enjoyed natural births.