Introducing Morrison Hart Loomis-Jonas
“Just think of it this way, you had a home birth, a hospital birth and a c-section all in one baby” said my midwife, Sally Avenson, the day after Morrison was born.
Our son, Morrison, came into the world after I labored for 40 hours. 40 hours. I wanted a midwife-assisted birth; I wanted a natural birth; I wanted to experience childbirth. I experienced most of that – 25 hours laboring at home with Brian, my friend, Diane, and a doula – 15 hours laboring at the hospital with Brian, Diane, the doula, the nurses and my midwife, and my mother who showed up briefly and unexpectedly (love you Mom) – but it ended in a 15 minute C-section. And I am OK with it.
I was in excruciating pain. My cervix had dilated all the way to 10cm but I was told not to push because Morrison was trying to come out ear first. All I wanted to do was push. I wanted this to end. After 35 hours, I was practically begging for some pain killers. The nurse on staff gave me some narcotics to help me sleep, but who can sleep through contractions? Not me. Not only was Morrison trying to come out ear first, but my uterus wasn’t continuing with the contractions. Sally broke my water (there was some merconium but not enough to worry Sally)and it was hoped that this would prompt my uterus to contract and help put Morrison into the correct position. It didn’t work. The contractions would come and then they would stop. I was the woman on the labor and delivery floor crying out in pain. Our childbirth prep classes helped in the early stages, but it felt like my body wasn’t cooperating. At one point, I cried to Diane, what am I doing wrong? I was starting to lose faith in my midwife, my body, myself and my birth.
But that changed. The turning point came in the early morning when it was still dark out. I was sitting on the toilet bracing for another horrible contraction when Sally came in and sat on the floor with her tie-dyed Danskos and blue scrubs. She whispered quietly “How are you doing?” and touched me on my knee. I moaned “Not well. I am suffering. I want an epidural. It has been two days.” Sally sat there for a minute calmly nodding her head and said, “Jen, You’re doing awesome. You are amazing. I can go ahead and order an epidural right now, no problem, but then we will most certainly have a C-section. I have a few more things I want to try to turn this baby, but it is up to you.” It was quiet. There was no emergency, just Sally and I deciding the next few hours of this birth. So I said “OK I can do this.”
I was given Pitosin to speed it up my contractions. I labored on the toilet; I labored in the bath, on the bed, on the floor, anywhere. At one point, Sally needed to feel a contraction while I was 10 cm dilated to figure out if the baby was turning, so she inserted a gloved hand into the birth canal and did an exam. I remember thinking that I could take whatever she had to do to me, I had reached a point where I just surrendered to the pain. I know it sounds strange, but I remember wondering if this was how torture victims felt. Sally was consulting with me and an on-staff obstetrician the entire time. After 40 hours, Morrison started to show signs of stress. Sally’s final recommendation was an epidural to see if relaxing me could ease this baby out.
I can honestly say I was excited to see that anesthesiologist come in. When the anesthesiologist heard I had labored 40 hours, she kind of rolled her eyes and asked me why I waited so long. I told her that I waited because I wanted to try to have Morrison naturally. And after 38 hours had passed, I was trusting my midwife to do all she could to see if she could turn my baby while keeping us both safe.The epidural was awesome. I was giddy with the pain relief. And then shortly after we determined Morrison wasn’t going to do what we hoped, I gratefully went in for a C-Section at 9:15 AM. Brian later told me he went out in the hall and cried because I wasn’t going to have the birth I had hoped for. But I am happy with my birth and I think I know why.
The teacher of my childbirth class, Penny Simkin who wrote Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, (and the forward to my book Portraits of Pregnancy) told us about a study she did among women asking them about their births. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1764149). This study explored and analyzed the long-term impact of the birth experience. Simkin noted that women who had the highest satisfaction ratings of their birth “thought that they accomplished something important, that they were in control, and that the birth experience contributed to their self-confidence and self-esteem.” The key words for me are feeling in control. I felt completely in control of everything. Every decision was mine to make, or at least was discussed with me. I felt like the nurses were looking out for me, but also that Sally was trying her best to give me a natural birth. Even though I didn’t have the final euphoria of a slippery baby coming out, I have a healthy baby and I am healthy too. I am grateful because 50 years ago we both might have died. Now, I feel like a rock-star, having labored for 40 hours at 10 cm dilation, though truthfully I don’t want to do it again.
Photos from my maternity sessions: