Evan Michael Berg
10 lbs 8 oz, 21 ½ in
Wow, what a journey…. Evan, well, to start with, he was supposed to be Hazel Ella Berg, around 7 lb, lots of dark hair and a few weeks early. He proved me wrong on all of my premonitions, wrong on all dreams, so much for a gut feeling…. My pregnancy was uneventful, being pregnant was never hard on me with my first son Ryley either. I loved being pregnant. Not much morning sickness, just the standard aches and pains. This pregnancy was different in that I was 12 years older than the last time I did this… so I was much more tired. I had to nap every day, sleeping in my truck on my lunch breaks from October- June. Lots of pitting edema made the last month miserable…. But lets start a bit further back.
Ryley was born by caesarian section after very little labor due to fetal distress, he was also very small (4 lb 13 oz). In spite of knowing that it was medically necessary, I always wished that I could try real labor and childbirth. So when I found out I was pregnant I was determined to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian). I started out at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, seeing the midwives, but after many appointments, and meeting a few doctors I was discouraged about whether I would actually be allowed to have a VBAC. They informed me that I would not be allowed to use the midwives during labor, only during my prenatals. I would get whichever doctor was on call when I went in. This was not encouraging as I had met a few of them that I really did not believe would allow me to labor, but it was my understanding it was one of the few hospitals that allowed you to try. When it was time to sign up for childbirth classes, I looked into what they offered and was not really impressed, so I got online and started looking around. I don’t know what brought me to Morning Star’s web site, but I’ve known of Paula for years. I called to see what her birth classes offered, and signed up. At Jeremy’s and my first class, I was envious of the other couples ability to have a home or birth center birth, this really hit home when we had our tour of the birth rooms and a “dramatized” birth (go Krista!). I wanted to birth here. Why couldn’t I have the same opportunity? Jeremy and I discussed it and I asked Paula at our last class if she would consider taking me on as a VBAC and this late in my gestation. “Of course.” She said. What? Could I believe my ears? Wow. Ok, it seemed as if the conductor just changed tracks…. So we set up a meeting time to get together and discuss it. We began the process of dealing with insurance… but that’s a boring story so we’ll skip that.
As we met for our prenatals, I became more and more in awe of Paula’s poise and knowledge, as well as her willingness to admit she didn’t know something and do the research. I felt more and more comfortable and convinced I had made the right decision as the appointments went on. I had a good time with Krista and Karen, joking and talking about labor and birth, the atmosphere was always light, but caring and thoughtful. Wow. I knew I couldn’t have found a better place. It seemed as though they were there not to direct or police my pregnancy and birth, but we were instead offered a facility for us to use where we could receive care and provide technical assistance if necessary. Empowered. Something as simple as taking and reading my own urine sample. It’s not rocket science, I knew that, but being trusted to read it myself? Being so used to being treated more like a child in the medical world made this such a contrast. As my due date approached, the questions we were asked were directed more and more to the imminent labor and birth. “How are you feeling about the birth?” “Is Ryley excited?” “Are you worried about the pain?” “How does Jeremy feel about becoming a dad?” Encouraging me to examine my thoughts and feelings about the coming event. Every appointment I was sure to be my last- but Evan had other ideas.
Finally, on 6/17 around 11 pm contractions started. They were very regular, every 5 minutes… I couldn’t believe it, finally! I called my friend Sara who was coming as my doula, and she said to call her when I couldn’t walk through them. All night they came regular, not increasing much in intensity, but still regular. I went for a walk hoping to hurry things along- I couldn’t wait for the challenge of labor! This was it! I called Paula in the early morning, she asked if I had had bloody show or waters break, well, no, but regular contractions and I wanted to come in. Sara said she would be down shortly, so Jeremy and I packed our bags and were off! When we got there, we talked a few minutes, and Paula checked my cervix. She got a thoughtful look on her face, and told me I was barely a fingertip dilated. My bubble burst. What? All of that for nothing? I was stunned. Embarrassed. Disappointed. Discouraged…. So then how do I know when it’s time? I cried…. Paula told us to go home and go about our day. Prodromal labor. What is that? I looked it up and it said “approach of disease” What? It also said it was psychological. That pissed me off. So I just decided everything was fine, and if the baby wasn't ready to come yet, fine, I had other things to do and was too busy to have a baby any ways. Sounds snotty, doesn’t it? Maybe just reverse psychology. So we went home and I took a 3 hour nap, ignoring my contractions. Went to a friends house for pizza and talked to another friend that got sent home twice during one of her labors. Enjoyed a gin and tonic, went home and went to bed.
11pm. Ouch! Well, they're back, this time with a vengeance. Ouch! Every contraction felt like someone was prying apart my spine, or putting it in a vice… every contraction Jeremy had to push on my lower back to relieve the pain. Whew. How long will this keep up? All night, every 3-10 minutes, increasing in intensity around 4 am. We continued to doze between contractions, but finally I told Jeremy it was time to go, I wanted in the birth tub… Ouch! D*mn. This was quickly becoming no fun at all! Focus on slowing my breathing, focus. Ride the wave. So we called and woke Paula the second morning and said I think it’s for real this time, and we are coming in. When we arrived, Paula checked my cervix, and I silently prayed, “please, please”…. I was 3 centimeters… I exhaled. Thank god. She told us to go for a walk. What? A walk? No way, I was getting on with this. I told her I wanted to rest and nap a bit first, the pain was too intense. So Jeremy and I laid down and dozed in between contractions that eased up a bit. When they woke me again after an hour or so and the pain didn’t recede with pressure anymore, we got up, had a snack and went for a walk. Jeremy, his mom Celeste, and my friend/doula Sara and I walked out of the birth center into the intense smell of blooming linden trees…and started up toward the cemetery. Stop, contract. Walk. Talk, joke, contract. Drink. Hold on. The pain in my back was increasing wave by wave. Every contraction I had to hold onto someone, at first just their hands, as they intensified, I would lean and hold around their neck. The back pain. Breathe. Focus.
Finally we were at the cemetery. We laughed and thought maybe it a bit odd to be laboring in a cemetery? We talked about names, laughed at the humor of some of the grave stones, admired some names, and were sad looking at some of the babies graves. We wove our way around the cemetery laboring, breathing, holding onto each other, focus through the pain, breathe slow and deep. I was amazed at how this labor was taking all of my focus during contractions, but it would release me and allow me to expand back into the world for a few minutes. We walked, labored, talked, what if my water breaks? Sara said it would rain some day and wash it away… ha ha. At one stretch a contraction hit in the middle of an intersection, I laughed and said they just would have to go around me, and they did… how strange this is! I was getting tired and wanted to go back to the birth center, so we started the journey back. As we got there it started to rain, intensifying the linden flowers sweetness. Karen welcomed me back and we went back upstairs to check my progress.
Paula had that thoughtful look again… No! I thought, then she smiled and said, there’s no cervix. What? Through transition already? Man, everything I had read said that was the hard part. Well hell, this baby may come soon! Hurray! So I got in the tub and kept laboring, pushing. Pushing. Pushing. Well? Pushing. Hello, where’s this baby? Why won’t my water break? Keep laboring. Why won’t the pain release? Get out, walk around. Use the bathroom. Squat. Use the birth stool. I could only go through the contractions standing or kneeling, every other position brought back the vice on my spine. Grunting. Sweating. Breathing deep. Pushing. Nothing. So we went for a walk in the gardens. I walked the stairs two at a time. All the while with my entourage, taking my pulse, listening to the baby’s heart rate. Waiting for my water to break. Handing me water. Gatorade. Push. Eat this. Push. Lean on me. Sit and rest for a minute between contractions in the gazebo. Sweat. Drink. Push. My world was broken into one word pieces. Minute by minute. Focus. Then I would seem to surface for a minute and look around. There’s Ryley playing his game boy, Celeste on her cell phone. Knelly with her camera. There’s Jeremy, and oh, hi Sara! Push. Ok, when is something going to happen?
Hours went by… hours? Why can’t I move this baby? Why won't my water break? Around 3-4 pm finally Paula said, I think he’s posterior, lets try to rotate him with pillows. Owie owie owie no WAY am I laying on this bed on pillows, good god! I tried kneeling. Nope. Ok, I remember wryly asking, “Is it too late to ask for an epidural?” “How about a c-section?” I got smiles. Paula said “Ok, I think we should break your water” - thank god-. She broke my water with a woosh, and I remember thinking “those chux pads must be amazing, how did that not make a mess on the bed???” “There’s meconium in the water.” Then she said “his heart tones dropped.” No. not again! This is what happened with Ryley. S**t. But his heart tones picked back up and never wavered again. “Thank you” I silently prayed. She warned me my contractions would intensify, and intensify they did….. whoa. I felt like I had to have a bowel movement. Ow! Why wont this baby turn? Focus. Contract and squeeze Sara’s hands. Squat. Stand. Drink this. Eat this. Monitor heart tones. Push. Push. It must have been 5pm by now, why won’t this baby come?
Back in the tub I went and Jeremy poured water over my back constantly as it was the only thing that brought some relief. Sara’s hands took all of my abuse as my focus was bearing down, the pain I tried to leave in her hands. All the while she smiled at me with total confidence and patience. Paula stayed in the background while the rest of her birth team darted in and out monitoring the baby and I. Man, when is this baby coming? When will I get to see its eyes? Hold it close? So hot. So tired. What happened to transition being hard? “I don’t want to do this anymore!” I want to take a nap. Go home. Argh! Drink this. Eat this. Push. Focus. I remember telling Ryley that it does hurt a lot, but it goes away. I asked him what he thought of it, and he said he’s glad he’s not a girl! I started to feel a slide, ever so incrementally for every push. The back pain intensified. Finally I felt inside myself and could feel the top of his head. Yee haw! Renewed energy. But the progress was so damned slow. I ask Paula “how many more pushes?” as an attempt at humor, she says, less than 15. Thank you god! I doubled my efforts. As he slowly descended the “burning ring of fire” increased (is this what Johnny Cash was singing about?). I knew the end was near.
The contractions slowed down, but the pushes intensified. I could feel his head crowning and in a few more pushes started to come out. That’s when Paula said “you have to flip over or we’re going to have a problem”. “I can’t” “You have to.” S**t. So Celeste, Jeremy and Sara helped my flip on my back and Paula quickly went to work. Ryley was now in charge of the camera, snapping photos. She told me to “push him out NOW.” “I’m pushing as hard as I can”. “NOW!” I give a push, felt a snap and a burning tear and a woosh and he’s out. The relief was immediate. He’s on my belly and I’m in awe. What? It’s a boy? Can’t be… It’ s supposed to be a girl! He’s not breathing but looking at me. I’m rubbing him, talking to him, welcoming him. Jeremy’s talking and my world seems so small, it’s just us, but Paula’s flitting in and out with oxygen, listening to his heart, he’s so beautiful and chubby is all I can think… then he’s crying, and she’s working and we are staying out of her way. His color’s pinking up beautifully. He’s crying. The cord is clamped and Jeremy cuts it. We are helped out of the tub and onto the bed- he’s so small yet so big! My focus goes back in, and Paula wants to pull on my placenta- ouch! Leave us alone is all I can think.The placenta is out, he is breathing good and no more mucous…. The time goes so slow, yet so fast. The flurry of the birth slows down- blood pressure, temperature, bleeding- pushing on my uterus all is happening in the background of my new focus, our baby! Evan latches on to nurse and nurses for an hour, so easy, so present.
Finally as things settle down, I ask Paula what happened there? He wasn't posterior as we thought- why the back pain? He had come out to his eyeballs, then gotten stuck, that was when she had me flip over. It turned out that he had a nuchal arm (around his neck). So he had to rotate one way then the other to free his shoulders. As a result of this arm he also had his head tilted funny to the side so he was trying to push out kind of at a weird angle. No wonder he wouldn't descend. No wonder the back pain. Was it an elbow in my spine? Man. I was so glad it was over, and I had my boy. Jeremy and I explored his hands, his feet, he was so chubby! Celeste and Paula took bets on how much he would weigh. Paula was closer- 10 ½ lbs???? No way, I remember thinking. Holy s**t. No wonder it was so hard? We eased our way through our last hours there, Evan and I took our herbal bath, got cleaned up and dressed and started on our way home with this new baby. I remember thinking I wish McDonalds was open, I sure could go for a Big Mac now that this Whopper is out of me…. Hee hee.
In the days after Evan arrived, we so enjoyed our time at home, snuggling, sleeping nursing, amazed at the presence of this newborn. At how content he is. I am more and more convinced that the way my birth was handled and the relaxedness of not hurrying me through my labor, the respect that our family was given, allowed for a fully whole and present baby. We were surrounded by love, patience and caring. I never felt rushed, or that we weren't doing it right. I am also sure that if we had had this birth in a hospital there would have been more interventions and I am sure a caesarean would have been imminent.
Thank you Thank you... Paula, Krista and Karen