Nicholas Peter Flashinski
Journey through Flashinski Pregnancy...
Our story truly begins in December of 2006. I took three pregnancy tests to confirm that I was pregnant. And sure enough I was. Mark was in Florida...I decided I couldn't wait until he got home. So, I called him up to tell him. We were both quite shocked because we hadn't been trying. Either way we felt blessed. Unfortunately when he got home, I began to feel cramping and miscarried within a day. This experience forever changed my mindset on having a baby. I felt inspired and an urge to have that chance I just lost. It was then that I saw on TV the advertisement for Morning Star Birth Center. What a beautiful place to have a baby!! It sounded like the perfect spot. Of course, we didn't need a birth center at that time.
It wasn't until a year later (October of 2007) that we found out we were expecting again. This time we were ready. Or at least we thought we were. Both of us were nervous and excited all at the same time. And oh how our families were excited for us. Over the course of the last year, I had many discussions with friends and acquaintances that had home births. I had decided that was the route for me. However, Mark had a different opinion and felt that for our first, we should be in a hospital. This didn't turn me away from interviewing a couple midwife's in the area that provide home birth assistance. I did continue to go to Luther Midelfort for prenatal care. It was after two nurse midwifes at Luther couldn't even read my chart to know what had happened at my last visit that I was determined to find a place with better individualized care. With some convincing, I got Mark to at least go to Morning Star for an interview. I figured it appeased both of our needs. More homey feeling with a hospital close by.
Paula and Erin took great care in that first consultation to explain in detail how their center works. The hour consult ended up being over 2 hours. We knew when we walked away that this was the place for us.
Insurance was an issue, as most of us face, but we finally got the birth center approved and began our care with them in December of 2007. We came to appointments and took the child birth class. Two things stand out to us as the most important and influential. One was the recommendation to read "Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin. This book really prepared Heather for the experience she was about to have. And number two was the teaching, calmness, sincerity and excitement Paula portrayed about the adventure of child birth.
Now, back to the Journey...
At 31 weeks and 5 days, we were enjoying a grand spring Sunday on the farm (we raise grassfed beef, and pastured chickens all organically). Our first calf had arrived and we were taking pictures with it. That evening Heather was just ecstatic that her ankles were not swollen. This was a clear sign that something was about to happen...but we didn't know that. The next morning as Heather laid in bed she awoke to what seemed like a pop to her and a gush of water. She ran for the bathroom and sat there in amazement wondering, "Could this really be my water breaking?" Mark was still sleeping as she waddled her way out to the living room to grab the child birth education manual from Morning Star and then waddled back to the toilet. There she re read the section about breaking water. It said don't rush in to the center if there wasn't any contractions and something about if it wasn't an emergency no need to call Paula until 7:00 am. It was only 5:30 am. So, Heather put a pad on and went back to bed. Mark heard her come back and woke up. (He had to get up to go to work anyway). She told him that her water broke. His response "WHAT, your kidding?"
We both must have been a little excited because we got up. Surprisingly, we were pretty relaxed though. Heather started making eggs for breakfast and Mark started going about his normal routine. Heather called her sister...who said "Get off the phone and get to a hospital". Her sister also told her to pack a bag and get the things needed to bring a baby home from the hospital.
Heather called Paula shortly after that. Paula seemed quite concerned mostly because she thought we were earlier than what we were. When we told her how far along we were, she relaxed some, but still told us we should head to United Hospital in St. Paul, which is connected to the Children's hospital. We didn't have a back up doctor at that point yet and the Children's hospital was known for its kangaroo care and individual rooms.
So, Mark put a bunch of wood in the outdoor wood stove and continued to get directions and information from Paula. Heather packed up and since Mark was too busy on the phone with Paula she decided to start the skidsteer and feed her cattle a few bales of hay. Her dog, Rascal, was so excited to do chores with her in the pasture and then got side tracked. He probably came back wondering where his owners took off to.
And so the trip to the hospital in the cities (a two hour drive) began. It was a late April morning and the night before we had a surprising snow. So, it was just beautiful. We took pictures as we drove. Heather's cramps/contractions were still pretty weak and about 15-20 minutes apart.
When we got to the hospital, Heather was put on a bed and monitors were placed on her for the baby's heart beat and the contractions. They were not so comfortable because the slightest movement caused them to pull off and then the nurse would come to check on them. The doctor explained to us that they wanted Heather to have 2 shots of a steroid to make sure the baby's lungs were healthy. She also explained after an ultrasound that the baby's head was down, so there was no need for a cesarean unless something changed. They also wanted to test Heather for Hepatitis B and start her on antibiotics...just in case. We fought the antibiotics, but eventually gave in with their persistance. Funny thing, they didn't get the IV started for 3 hours and then a half hour later we got the test results saying negative. Lastly, the doctor told us that if the baby didn't come in two days that they would induce Heather.
The day continued with visits from nurses, friends visiting and being restricted to the bed. Towards the evening the contractions were getting a little bit more strong, but nothing anyone was worried about. Until 1:00 am when Heather started experiencing some really strong contractions. She kept thinking of the breathing and relaxing techniques that she read in Ina May's book. And she looked for the signs that things were getting closer that Paula had told us about in the child birth class. Around 2:00 am, the nurse came in to check the monitors and Heather told her she felt like puking. The nurse just said "oh" and walked back out. So, Heather continued labor on her own, while Mark slept. Until it got to the point she needed to sit up. She told Mark she felt a burning sensation and that she needed to go to the bathroom. Mark walked her there. Which is where a contraction came that caused Heather to yell out "GET THE NURSE, I HAVE TO PUSH!!!"
The nurse moved Heather back to the bed and for the first time since we got to the hospital, she checked Heather's cervix. She said Heather was fully dilated and the baby's head was right there. Then she said....stop pushing. What!?!?!?!?!
For the next half hour, Heather fought the urge to push, while she was wheeled to an OR and the neonatal unit prepped. Heather kept thinking that this was not how she wanted to give birth. Bright lights, cold metal room, lots of strange people (including a doctor that didn't say hardly anything), and lying on her back in a bed. But, at least, Mark was with her and things were happening somewhat naturally. (Mark was taking pictures, so we even have pictures of Heather smiling in between contractions)
Finally, they said Heather could start pushing. In three or four contractions with about three pushes per contraction, little Nicholas was born. He screamed immediately which was a good sign that there was no problem with his lungs. They did put him on Heather's body as they wiped him down and Mark cut his umbilical cord (something they wanted to do immediately). While they wrapped him up and checked him out, the neonatal doctor came to Heather's bedside and asked for her request on Vitamin K and antibiotics. Because of Heather's tired state, she just said whatever you think...but in the end this was a frustration. We had planned not to have any of that done to our baby.
Nicholas was born at 32 weeks exactly at 4 pounds 5.5 ounces. He spent 10 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (which is cause for another story sometime). After feeding successfully and maintaining his body temperature on his own. He was able to come home.
Now back to Paula...
Paula had kept in contact with the doctors working with us as much as possible. But since Nicholas decided to arrive at 2 in the morning and he came so fast, she did not get a call until the next morning when we called her to give her the news. We were all sad she didn't make it to be at least our doula. She did however make a trip to see us in the hospital and she helped with latching on. And she went shopping for the essentials for Heather (since Heather only packed enough clothes for one day). But most importantly she encouraged us to be in control of our baby's care.
Postpartum care with Paula and the birth center continued and it was all much appreciated. Especially when Paula visited us at home. Paula gave Heather the power and strength to be the mother instead of being told what to do by the doctors and nurses. What a blessing to have such a knowledgeable and caring woman in our area.