Last week at this time I was in Red Bank, New Jersey at my grandson's 2nd birthday. How time flys! It seems like yesterday that Matthew was born. Below is his birth story in this grandma's words. I am sharing with my daughters permission.
March 9, 2012 - Friday evening Andrea and I went on a walk. It was a cold night. We walked to the Wawa, got a very delicious hot chocolate and went down to the beach. The moon was coming up over the Jersey Shore. The night was dark, our spirits were high. This was the day that docs had planned to take Matthew via Cesarean. Andrea told them, "No thank you!". She was glad to be waiting for labor to start spontaneously and for Matthew to pick his birthday. Over the last few days Andrea seemed to be having more and more moments of heavy endorphin highs, she was euphoric and soft. There were also moments of painful heavy baby, heavy body, exhaustion, sleepiness, fear, and then she’d come full circle back to bravery. Andrea is so ready to meet her baby. We were almost back to the house when Andrea made a surprised sound. Then she told me she felt something grind against her pubic bone, or more like a clunk feeling. She hoped that something wasn’t wrong. I knew that it was very right. All that Rebozo jiggling I’d been doing to get baby off Mom’s pubic bone may have helped. Matthew was getting curious to meet his mommy and daddy. He was ready to meet the world!
Tonight Michael and Andrea were invited to a friend’s 30th birthday bash. Andrea didn’t feel up to it. Michael’s friends wanted him to take the Limo to dinner with them. Michael opted to drive himself. Turns out that was a good decision.
Michael came home early at 10:30PM Andrea’s water leaked at 11:40PM
March 10, 2012 - At midnight Andrea woke me up to tell me about her leaking water and contractions. I ask her how close the contractions are. She says, “twenty minutes”. I say, “Go back to bed”, trying to act casual, nonchalant and knowing that any sleep, even 10 minutes, could give Andrea the energy reserves she would need to get through her fast approaching labor…I didn’t know how fast!
Michael came to get me out of bed just as I was drifting off. Andrea’s contractions have moved from 20 to 15 to 10 to 5 minutes apart in 45 minutes. She is vomiting. She gets in the warm tub. It’s not long before she wants to go to the hospital. She wants to go NOW!!! I think she says she is going to call a Taxi because Michael is taking too long packing their bags. I was trying to dry Andrea off and dress her and pack my stuff too. At first I thought we could delay her and stay home longer like in some labors. NOT this one! Andrea was acting like this labor was moving precipitously fast and it was just very furiously powerful. We (Michael and I) were caught off guard. Yes, me, the doula, was caught off guard! Birth is full of surprises. Each baby, each labor, each mama has a different experience, a different story. No two are alike.
I believe a woman when she says something in labor. Rule #1 “LISTEN TO MOM”. So we tried to comply and get Andrea to the hospital as quick as possible. We got to hospital at 3AM. Although Andrea was one centimeter dilated, I knew she was having a big baby and her body was doing a tremendous job getting him out. She was naturally making some powerful contractions!!! One of my worries had been that Andrea’s labor would be really long. I see that often with big babies. I’d been praying for hers to be quick. Well, Matthew was not wasting anytime, he was on his way! In two hours Andrea was four centimeters, then two hours later 7 centimeters. By 9AM Andrea was EIGHT centimeters dilated!!! She was fully effaced and Matthew was -1 station.
Andrea had wanted an epidural as soon as we arrived at the hospital. When waiting for the anesthesiologist she was panicky and wanted a cesarean now! I reassured her that the epidural would make her comfortable. Michael also worked to calm her and he encouraged her to try and avoid surgical birth. Finally her Epidural was in place. But it wasn’t providing complete coverage. Again Andrea wavered and considered a cesarean. The anesthesiologist came back and got her comfortable. In most cases an epidural slows labor. Not this time. Andrea’s body was a birthing machine! Meanwhile Michael was able to get some sleep. Andrea was un-nerved by the shaking that was happening to her. The hormones of birth often cause women to get the shakes, it feels like uncontrollable shivering or rattling. It’s discerning. Even with an epidural, it’s a very powerful time and a lot of work. It helped when I read the Hypnobirthing Affirmations. Then Michael read the Rainbow Relaxation Script. That really got Andrea relaxed and glowing!! She said she was high. The sun came up on March 10, 2012. Andrea had brushed her teeth with Michael’s help. We brushed her hair and, what else, she put on her make-up! All the while she was having wonderful, beautiful, powerful, contractions.
I was sure she was progressing. Maybe baby would be zero station by noon or mama would be 9 centimeters. As long as these docs saw progress they were happy. They were very conservative surgeons (sometimes we forget that an OBGYN is a trained surgeon) and they were section happy. Numerous docs had told Andrea she should schedule a C-section. They described shoulder dystocia in vivid, graphic detail. The doc’s had scared Michael and Andrea for months now. One doc, the one we saw that Monday at the biophysical, said to Andrea, “You have a generous pelvis”. But then he said what must have been in her file, “cesarean recommended”. The doc that admitted Andrea to the hospital tonight said, “Baby’s head isn’t too big, he may be 7 lbs.” That was encouraging but in the end the docs stick to protocol and stick together.
11AM Saturday, March 10, 2012
Even though Andrea’s labor had moved fast, in these last two hours, Andrea had not made the progress that met hospital standard protocol. That was all it took for the doc to make a strong recommendation for cesarean section. Andrea and Michael asked everyone including me to leave the room so they could talk.
I LOVE THAT! I love that Andrea took her power into her hands. I so respected whatever this strong Mama decided.
Matthew Vincent Phillips was born via Cesarean Section at 1:56PM 3/10/12. He weighed 10 pounds, 11.7 ounces. He was 23 ½ inches long. Andrea recovered quickly. Matthew nursed smartly. They all fell in love like never before, like they could’ve never imagined. Madly in love. Blissfully in love.
One of my favorite memories from Matthew’s birth day is when I was resting on the convertible
Hospital bed while Michael was comforting Andrea. As she labored he would kiss her or I should say, “They would share a kiss”. That kiss was so sweet and so powerful! The love oozed and I was actually embarrassed to be there.
After note: I didn’t feel like a doula at my daughters birthing time. It might be compared to doulas who give birth, they are not in their doula brain, they are in their strong mama brain or maybe staying outside their brain altogether. I was 100% the mother of the new mommy; in my mothering skin. Yes, the whole woman, with her life experience as a birth doula, as a woman who has given birth, was fully present. But I was a mom. First. Always.
This is just bits and pieces of what actually happened. Nancy Phillips and Joe Phillips were there and have their story. Matthew has his memories. We all have our version of the time around Matthew’s birth day, the day Michael became a daddy, the day my baby girl became a mommy. This is one version – my version. Happy Birthday Matthew! Love, Gamma Rosie
A newborn babe brings
light to the cottage,
Warmth to the hearth
And joy to the soul,
For wealth is family,
And family is wealth.