Thursday, December 27, 2012
Home Birth Stories from the 70s & 80s
I was 18 years old when I moved out on my own and wrote this.
I became pregnant in January of 1978, just 7 days after quitting my birth control pills. My boyfriend and I were planning a homebirth. I was in excellent health all during my pregnancy, until the middle of the 8th month.
My blood pressure skyrocketed and I had some trace edema. Both my doc and midwife had come to the conclusion that I had pre-eclampsia, a condition that usually develops into toxemia of pregnancy.
I was dead set against going to the hospital. I had done plenty of research on the subject of childbirth and felt that a "normal" birth should occur in the comfort and privacy of one's own home. Knowing that I would have to succumb to my doc's wishes and enter the hospital unless a miracle took place, I turned to my knowledge of nutrition for some assistance.
I have been on a "natural" food diet for about 1.5 yrs now and take plenty of food supplements. My main concern at this time was lowering my blood pressure. Since my diet was mainly dairy products, I drastically reduced these for sometimes they are a contributing factor in high blood pressure when used excessively. This measure did not work and I began gaining weight. I had gained 6 lbs in 2 days. This weight gain would be interpreted as another symptom of pre-eclampsia if I didn't do something right away. I went back to my old diet of Brewer's Yeast and protein drinks in the mornings and a light meal in the evenings. I had only 5 days until my next doc appt. and was getting very depressed.
I went through all of my notes on nutrition and took a trip to the library to do further research on high blood pressure (this was back way before the internet!). I found that choline and inositol could be of great help in lowering blood pressure and in preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). I also learned that increased potassium would balance or lower the sodium level in my body, which would be helpful because high sodium levels increase blood pressure.
The end result of this research was that I increased my intake of choline, inositol and potassium. I slowly worked up to 1,000 mg per day of choline and inositol morning and evening and 150 mg of potassium daily, in addition to my regular supplemental intake.
The day of my doc appt. moved closer and closer and I had no idea of whether or not the "treatment" was working. I had lost 4 of the 6 pounds I gained, however, and was becoming more and more hopeful.
The day of my doc appt. arrived and my swelling was hardly noticeable and my blood pressure was NORMAL! Within 4 days, I had reversed my "symptoms," although, I was prepared to go to the hospital in the event that my blood pressure again increased to dangerous levels during labor.
I went into labor on October 5th, 1978 on the way to the doctor's office. I was 19 years old. At the onset of labor, I took double doses of all my supplements. We watched my blood pressure closely.
During my labor, I found it impossible to lie down. I did chores around the house, paced the floors, did some jogging, took showers, spent time sitting/squatting, which was much too much activity and my cervix became swollen.
I had to wait through 5-6 hours of pushing contractions until my cervix swelling went down. My blood pressure remained normal and I had plenty of energy left to push my 9 lb. 6 oz. son out into the world. Here's what happened:
I went into labor at 1:30 p.m. on October 5, 1978, in the car, on the way to the doctor's office. At the doctor's office, I was 75% effaced and my cervix was 5 centimeters dilated. When we arrived home from the doc's office, we called Jan, our midwife and let her know what was happening. We timed the contractions, which were about 9 minutes apart and lasted a little over a minute each. Jan arrived at about 8:00 p.m. with David (an assistant and childbirth educator who also photographed the entire event). We talked for a while and things started slowing down, so they left until things heated up again around midnight. Pat, another assistant midwife, also came along.
As I mentioned before, I was too active and my cervix became swollen. I needed help during the 6 or so hours of pushing contractions because I was in excruciating pain. Nearing 8 in the morning, I began running to the bathroom to throw up between contractions. Soon, I was able to really begin pushing. It was such a rush to see in the mirror my baby's head out and ready to be born. He was all scrunched up and blue. After one huge push, he splashed out and was laid on my stomach. He began crying loudly and then nursed for nearly 3 hours nonstop.
I can still remember the breakfast we had that day. When I look back at these words, I am amazed at the woman I was at 19 years old. Shortly after this, I became a certified childbirth educator.
My second child was born in 1981. I was 22 years young. The labor was so easy, lasting 7 hours of strong contractions. I took a nice long shower and when Jan checked me, she was surprised to find that the baby's head was already halfway out. I was shocked to learn that I could begin pushing so soon. As soon as I began pushing, I was in constant burning pain, but there was no going back. The realization was horrifying, but my body kept pushing anyway and soon there was a baby's head poking out. This baby hardly made a sound. He was a sweet 8 lb 2 oz baby boy, who latched on to nurse and then looked into my eyes the whole time.
I had fresh squeezed orange juice at Blair's birth.
I started having contractions about 9 in the morning, December 19th, 1983. I was 24 years young. They were about 15 minutes apart and lasted roughly 60 seconds. I had a lot of false labor prior to this, so I didn't want to call anyone too soon. It's really embarrassing to get everyone there and then have things stall. My husband and I decided that we needed to get some groceries, so we went out shopping, packing our two little boys into the car. It was a navy blue Ford Falcon. I started having heavy contractions when my husband and the boys were inside the store. I stayed behind because I was uncomfortable. There was no way I could get out of the car and go into the store to get them. I was pretty far back in the Raley's parking lot, hoping and praying they would hurry. I never felt so alone.
We got home around 1:00 p.m. and my husband began feeding the boys while I went to the bedroom and called Jan. She told me to let her know when I needed her to arrive. I went to the bathroom and my water broke. I started to cry and could feel the baby's head crowning. I called my husband into the room. I made it as far as the floor next to the bed and kneelt down in prayer position. He came in and I told him to wash his hands!
I gave myself an exam and could feel that my cervix was completely dilated and the baby was coming. We called Jan who said she would be on her way. In the meantime, I couldn't help but push. I told my husband to get behind my and cradle the baby's head as it appeared, and to check to make sure the cord was not around its head. He was confused and didn't know what to do, so I just said, "Catch the baby!" Once I knew it was safe and the baby wouldn't splash out onto the floor, my body took over and pushed her out.
I looked behind me to see my two little boys wide-eyed in the doorway and my husband holding a healthy baby girl. She hardly made a noise, but then began nursing and didn't stop. She weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz. I can't remember eating. I only remember her eating!!! And eating...
June 17, 1986 started out early for us. We borrowed my grandma's car to go to appointments and shopping. We rose early to feed, wash and dress Haven, Blair and Miranda. We came home around lunchtime and fixed something to eat. After lunch and returning the car, my husband stayed visiting with my grandma. I cleaned up after lunch, watered my flowers and noticed I was having contractions. I checked my own cervix, which was 4 cm dilated and flat. When they got more earnest, I called Jan and she said she'd be there in 40 minutes. I called my husband to come home. Once again, the fateful toilet caused my water to break. Once the water broke, I couldn't move and squatted right in front of the toilet. Jan asked me if I could move into the bedroom but I just couldn't go anywhere with a baby's head between my legs, so everyone squatted on the floor in my narrow bathroom.
She continued trying to coax me but finally gave up. My husband squeezed in beside me to help hold me up and I tore his bare chest up with my fingernails. Once again, my body took over. I felt the baby do 3 or 4 kicks like he was a swimmer pushing off a pool ledge and he was out. I was in so much pain after this I actually said, "No more babies."
I remember hemorrhaging and Jan giving me a shot. Zared weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. Labor lasted 3 hours.
Thursday morning, 5/19/88, my mom called. I was feeling energetic and anxious. Contractions, although sporadic, were not feeling playful at all! Decided to go skating. Returned from skating at about 2 or so and began preparing dinner and cleaning house. I felt irritable, anxious, spacey and wired. I called my friend and neighbor to tell her how I was feeling. She cam over and we decided to go for a walk with all of our kids. By 6 p.m., I was back home with my kids and preparing everyone for bed. I was nursing Zared at 7 p.m. and had a horrible contraction! My neighbor and midwife were called but my husband was in school and couldn't be reached! I checked my cervix at 7:40 and was 6-8 cm dilated. I was on my hands and knees when the midwife arrived. She had to break the amniotic sac because it was being stubborn and my pushes were ineffective. As soon as the water broke, the pain was constant and I felt as though I was ripping wide open! I had to wait for the midwife to get the cord from around the baby's neck and as soon as it was completed, I gave a push and the baby was all the way born.
At first I thought the umbilical hernia was a penis and that I had another son, but then realized I had another daughter. I couldn't have been happier. I named her after the Hebrew midwife who's home was blessed by God for shielding the baby Moses. God, midwifery, beautiful daughter...it all seemed to fit.
Did I mention this baby was born in a one room (15 x 15) cabin with no electricity. We had a wood stove, gravity flow water and used an outhouse. The other kids slept in lofts. Besides our beds and kitchen table and chairs, our home was filled with books. Again, this was back in the day prior to cell phones, computers, etc. Shiphrah weighed 7 lbs. even.
That is all.