July 23, 2011

short labor, short labor story

Gabriella . . . the name does NOT fit this athletic, talkative, very intense young woman. But her nickname, Gabby, does. :)

Gabby called to inform me that she woke up in a puddle. She was 10 days past due date, so her water breaking was great news! No labor yet, so I took my time and arrived to their house a couple of hours later to find she was beginning to have some mild contractions.

We went for a walk, but with a heat index of 102, twenty minutes was all she wanted to do. We went inside and bounced on the birthing ball and talked about life and watched contractions go from 'easy and 6 minutes apart' to 'intense and 4 1/2 minutes apart' in just a couple of hours. Based on my experience, I knew it was time to transfer, and she readily agreed, so we loaded up in my van and drove the 25 minutes to the hospital.

We enjoyed talking along the way, noting that they still didn't have a carseat OR a name picked out for this child and laughing at the fact that they maybe the worst procrastinators ever.

When we got to the hospital, Gabby said, "Steph, we talked the whole way here." We did! Oh. We did. She never stopped once to breathe through a contraction because she never had a contraction. Darn.

She had already heard about my last client's "long birth, long birth story" and was more than happy when I suggested we walk around outside and get labor progressing again before we checked in and had to deal with IV's and monitors. So we walked. And sweated. Just as our bodies were about to change state from solids to liquids, Gabby announced, "Let's go to Wal-Mart!" DO WHAT??? "Seriously," she said. "We can walk around in the cool, we can get a carseat, and I'm pretty sure Wal-Mart won't hook me up to a fetal monitor." Well, she makes a good point. So off we went.

After a few minutes of walking around Wally World, her contractions picked up nicely, and by the time we checked out, people were pointing and staring and offering assistance. :)

Back at the hospital, we walked the lobby and courtyard for another half hour until Gabby felt she really wanted to check in. We got a room, determined she was 8+ cm dilated, and no sooner did they check her than transition hit hard and fast. She got into a squatting position up on the bed between her hubby and me, using our shoulders for support, and laughed at herself for looking and sounding like an Olympic weightlifter with a beer belly. (I'm telling you, this girl was a riot!)

After 30 minutes of transition came 30 minutes of pushing, and her 7# 15oz little boy was in her arms all wide-eyed and happy.

THAT'S how to have a baby. :)

July 20, 2011

long labor, long labor story

Martha's birth was . . . well . . . SLOW. This, however, was NOT Martha's fault.

Martha has a blood disorder that causes her to clot when she shouldn't. So for the last part of her pregnancy she was on blood thinners and bedrest.

Because of the meds, laboring at home would not have been the responsible option for her. Also because of the meds, going past her due date would also have not been a responsible option, as blood thinners cause premature placental degeneration.

When the due date neared, rather than go the risky pitocin route, Martha opted to have her membranes stripped, which worked like a charm to get labor going. She called me at noon from the hospital with contractions at 5 minutes apart, so I hurried straight there. These five-minutes-apart contractions, however, were VERY mild, very short and very unproductive. No problem, it's early labor. Once they get a good 30-minute reading on the fetal monitor, (hospital policy), we'll get up and walk and move things along.


It was the "good 30-minute reading on the fetal monitor" that will forever be the overriding memory of this labor, as the monitor just did NOT work for Martha. The monitor itself was fine. Martha, herself, also fine. But the combination of the two did not work. And every 4 to 8 minutes every hour for hours, the nurse would come in . . . "KNOCK KNOCK! It's not working!" (Tap the machine, check the paper) RIP RIP (velcro straps being jerked off Martha's belly) Reposition the probe, press hard, and FLIP FLIP (tighten the velcro straps). Okay, so this might not seem like a big deal, but when it's happening 8 to 12 times an hour it gets highly annoying. Not to mention the fact that it NEVER worked. I don't think the monitor ever picked up the baby's heart rate for more than 3 consecutive contractions. And because of THIS, they wouldn't let her get up to walk. And because she couldn't get up and move, labor wasn't progressing.

Personal Rant: The baby could have been in distress and who would know? I know the GOAL of the monitor is to determine that, but it WASN'T WORKING. And if she HAD been in distress, it would have been SO much better to have labor progressing faster to get her born sooner. Policies, like rules, are made to be broken. Common sense is a lovely thing. (Stepping down off soapbox now.)

Finally, after about 6 hours and only 2 cm of progress, we talked them into giving us a half hour to go outside. No sooner was Martha up and going than contractions started coming steadier, longer, harder. YES! But we promised to be back to the room after 30, so we were, and they strapped her back up, and contractions slowed and lessened. Not to help matters, the monitor was showing delayed decelerations in the baby's heart rate (a potential sign she is not getting all the oxygen she needs). At this stressful news, labor basically CEASED. After nearly an hour with no contractions, I was becoming concerned that Martha was going to be the first notch on my C-section belt, and I didn't want this for her, and I KNEW she didn't want it for herself. So, I suggested she go back to the ONE thing that seemed to work for her. It's a little something that, well, when done right is something you don't talk about publicly, but when done clinically is almost funny. Trust me, it's TMI. Besides, if I used the words "nipple" and "stimulation", I would have to raise the MPAA rating on my blog.

Speaking of funny, Daniel (Martha's husband) was great. Supportive, helpful and entertaining. Everything I write about here, he was part of, so don't take the lack of his name to mean he wasn't front and center. He kept trying to get Martha to "visualize her cervix opening like a flower reaching for the sun" and as he encouraged this, he did a little interpretive dance. Definitely worth the admission price.

Still, contractions remained weak, the monitor unstable, and by midnight she was still only 5 cm dilated. Any other area hospital would have been prepping her for a C-section by now, so I am at least thankful for a very patient midwife who was content to let us labor on, slow as it may have been.

At 1 a.m. the midwife broke her water (at Martha's request) and then after a while: transition. HARD transition. I got her onto her knees and we moaned through them. At this point, Martha is EXHAUSTED, but let me just say, she was SUCH a trouper, and the BEST breather of any laboring mom I've worked with. She has now been in labor for 15+ hours, but she is determined.

From Martha's blog: "Stephanie was there to tell me I was so close. I remember asking her “what if I’m not?” But, she told me I was -- that I was in transition and it wouldn’t last much longer. Having her tell me this was such a great comfort and motivator. I was able to focus on each contraction as it came, hoping each one would bring me closer to the end. I was in such pain. However, guess what? The monitors weren’t picking up any contractions, so the nurses were in there the WHOLE time I was in transition moving around the sensors, pressing on my uterus. I must confess, I have never fought back the urge to lash out at someone as much as I had to then – I was so tired of them messing with me! They continued to try to get my contractions to appear on the monitor right up until I was pushing."

If you want to know the rest of Martha's birth in detail, click on her link at the top. She's a great writer and detailed it beautifully. Finally, at 4:43 a.m. her daughter was born. Perfect. Healthy. GORGEOUS. All babies are pretty, but this one especially so. (Oh, that is SUCH a lie. Most babies look like goopy versions of Alien. This clip is rated R for graphic ickiness.)

I'd like to say there is a moral to this birth story, but there isn't. It solidifies for me what I already know: 1) Labor at home for as long as possible. Unfortunately for Martha, that just wasn't an option, and 2) Stay up and moving. Let gravity be your friend. Again, for poor Martha and the evil monitor, not an option.

You know what, there is a moral after all: Educate yourself. Decide what's right for you. Then hold your ground. That's what Martha did. Even though NOTHING about her birth went as she expected, she still stayed determined to have a natural birth. Her daughter will never have to wonder if her mom has her best interest at heart. She's already proved that.

July 16, 2011

PipeBusters (episode 4) on the Reality Channel

(episode 4 is intended to be the finale of the series . . . don't read it first.)

After the drama of yesterday's 'Bad Hair Day' we wonder how much more they can take? How much more? As the day begins, Stephanie washes her hair in the sink with the pitcher of tepid water. However, water which seems tepid for brushing one's teeth feels like glacier water to the scalp, giving new meaning to the term "Brain Freeze" (cue Foreigner's "Cold As Ice"). The cold-water-washing allows for adequate blow-drying and ample hair volume, narrowly averting a tragic second Bad Hair Day.


Meanwhile, back at the chemical plant, the cowboy takes off early and heads to the chiropractor for his aching back. After that, a stop at Shop-a-Rama for the plumbing part. After that, it's back under the crawl space. Only this time, it's from the vent at the front of the house - which, although nearer the leak, is a MUCH smaller, much shallower vent - causing the cowboy crucial claustrophobic hesitation. He enters the darkness head-first, knowing the tight turnaround may totally prevent re-exit through the same vent. Once under, he calls for Stephanie. He needs her to go outside and make the counter-clockwise turn to discern the exact location of the leak. She searches her closet for the right pair of "going out to the meter" shoes and makes the 100-ft trek out to the yard. She turns it on. (cue "Twist & Shout") No sooner does she get it on than he wants her to turn it back off! Oh, the frustration and confusion! Then he wants her to wait. WAIT? Outside? She doesn't have on "waiting" shoes, she has on "going to the meter shoes". What to do? What. To. Do??? Lucky for Stephanie, the "GTTM" shoes also double as appropriate weed-pulling shoes, so she decides to take the shoes off and sit barefoot on the front porch and wait.

Under the house, the cowboy-turned-plumber is commenting - loudly - on how tight the vent was to crawl into, and how Stephanie may have to help him get back out. She comments that he is not to worry. She is certain that if his middle is too round to fit, and he has to remain wedged there for several days like Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit's hole, she will be certain to visit every day and sing "Rumbly in my Tumbly" to him. The thought of being wedged in the vent was not at all humorous to the cowboy - not at all - and he stated, in no uncertain terms, if he were to be "caught in a tight spot", she had better do all she can, including calling the National Guard to get him out. Several minutes, and few Disney songs later, the cowboy proclaims . . .


The cowboy proclaims, 'TURN THE WATER ON!' and she does, and there is water, and it is good. (cue "Hallelujah Chorus") The cowboy begins the army crawl back to the vent. He tosses out the tools first then births himself from under the house - WILL HE MAKE IT? Head facedown, one shoulder, then the other, then the rest sliding out easily. Whew! That was close! But the job is completed. The leak has been stopped for now. At least the one under the house . . . the running toilet and dripping shower are a different story (cue "Shower the People" by James Taylor). Yes, the leaky shower faucet is a very different story. A lengthy story. A story appropriate for next season on PipeBusters on the Reality Channel.

Thanks for joining us.

July 14, 2011

PipeBusters (episode 3) on the Reality Channel

As we left off last time, the cowboy-turned-plumber had given up the claustrophic chore of crawling beneath the concrete to conquer the catastrophe. "TOMORROW" is now today, and soon all will be well. Or will it?

COMMERCIAL BREAK (because now that you are more hooked by our tragedy, we can advertise earlier in the show, knowing you will stay tuned for more.)

Stephanie begins her day as usual, up at the crack of 8 or 8:15. She meanders to the bathroom, turns the bathtub faucet to run her water, and then remembers: NO water. No hot morning bath. She turns on the curling iron and brushes her teeth from a 1/2 gallon pitcher of lukewarm water. Lukewarm water and toothpaste first thing in the morning. Gag. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS!!! UGH! AND, to make matters worse, one of the vanity lights is blown, leaving her face only three-quarters lit. She brushes through her hair and begins to curl. Hmmm. Something is not right. Something is quite wrong. Flat hair, the nasty by-product of sleeping on semi-damp hair the night before. She curls more. And more. Spraying as she goes. But, despite her best efforts, her hair WILL be flat today. And she has to go out in public. Where there are people. And they will SEE her flat hair (cue melodramatic music).


Back home in the evening, Stephanie begins dinner . . . watermelon, watercress salad with water chestnuts . . . she is sensing a theme. The cowboy arrives some minutes later, walking like a decaying cast member of Zombieland. He hurts. All over. Neck, back, knee. "Bad day," he comments, "aching all over. Swelling. Pain." "It might be a tumor," Stephanie comments sarcastically. "It's not a tumor," the cowboy groans. He is in no shape to do the plumbing repairs. No shape at all. There will be no running water again tonight. Once again they make the counter-clockwise rotation so showering can commence.


Another day without water. The laundry is piling up. The dishwasher is loaded. The weeds in the landscaping however, are growing just fine. Will a hot shower ease the cowboy's aches and pains? Will he be able to complete this job with one MORE tomorrow? After all, tomorrow is another day. Stephanie raises her fist to the sky, "With God as my witness, I'll never have flat hair AGAIN!"

Tune in next time for the season finale of PipeBusters on the Reality Channel.

July 12, 2011

PipeBusters (episode 2) on the Reality Channel

subtitled: "A water break? Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak." Coach Boone, Remember the Titans

(cue Nintendo music from Mario)
In our last episode, the water had to be meticulously shut off at the water meter in the ground, where hopefully a mama snapping turtle had not claimed it as her nesting ground as has been the case in a previous year. Using only a T-wrench and a stiff clockwise ('righty tighty, lefty loosey'') turn, Kevin left the residence water-free and, hopefully, leak-free for several hours.

At 6 p.m., with Kevin now perilously on the winding highway that crosses the Jack's Fork river in Missouri on his way to camp, both Stephanie and the cowboy return from their respective days' work to the measly gallon of water in the two pitchers. Two measly pitchers. For two adults. One of whom actually DRINKS water. How will they manage??? The claustrophobic cowboy knows he must brave the darkness that is the crawlspace under the house. (This would be a great time to run a local plumber's commercial, alas, it is not commercial time yet.)

Removing the vent cover on the back side of the house, the cowboy-turned-amateur-plumber-because-heaven-forbid-we-pay-someone-to-do-a-job-today-that-he-can-do-himself-for-free-not-counting-supplies-over-a-period-of-several-days 'army crawls' into the damp darkness. Once he is securely wedged under the center of the house, he begins to bang and groan and saw. Stephanie chooses this moment to share important information with him by yelling through the floor in the kitchen. "GREGORY. You ARE aware that we have a skunk under the house again, aren't you???" Yeah. Pepe le Pew has been making his presence known for several consecutive evenings, only the cowboy has not been around to witness said smellevents (cue Looney Tunes music). Stephanie felt it was critical to add to his stress at this juncture in the process. From the deep recesses under the floor, we hear the cowboy holler, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" What if the skunk decides to investigate? What would happen if the cowboy got a face full of eau de skunk?


Back under the house, lying in a puddle of mud, stressed about the potential threat of a skunk bombing and attempting to repair the leak, the cowboy seals what he is certain is the culprit. All is quiet in the house. The hissing has ceased. The leak is repaired. Angels begin singing. Then suddenly a whooshing sound and the cowboy's under-the-house-muffled-exclamatory "SON OF A . . .!!!!!!!!!! "


Stop the choir! The rejoicing was woefully premature, and the repair only served to stress the line further toward the front of the house, cause a full-on rupture of the pipe. A full-on rupture. Of the water pipe. Water is now pouring, yea even gushing from the line, flooding the crawlspace with ounces of water per minute. The cowboy exits quickly and determines his work for the night is over. Over. He will not be completing the repair this evening. Not. Be. Completing. The. Repair. Darkness is setting in, the part he needs is inaccessible until Shop-a-Rama opens again tomorrow, and he is fed up and covered with muddy goo. Disgusting muddy goo. He announces: "Shower now. Take up some more water. Then shut it back off. I'll fix it TOMORROW." (cue optimistic song from the musical "Annie"). More water is stored in various kitchen containers. Emergency showers are taken. Legs are not shaved (and this is NOT November! The cowboy is risking serious stubble-burn if he has set his sights on snuggling at bedtime.) Moaning and groaning and moving like a man who is nearly 50, he showers, eats his dinner, and dozes off for the night. Will he get it fixed tomorrow? Will Shop-a-Rama have the needed parts? Will the cowboy be stabbed to death in his sleep by leg hair?

Tune in next time for episode 3 of Pipebusters on the Reality Channel.

July 10, 2011

PipeBusters on the Reality Channel

3:00 ET, 2:00 CST

On the pilot episode of PipeBusters, we find Stephanie rising early and making her way to the kitchen. She hears a noise. An odd noise. An ominous sound. An ominous hissing sound. (cue hissing noise) She lurks around quietly, trying to discern the location and cause. Snake? If so, Stephanie and her family could be in danger. Grave danger. Freon leak? If so, Stephanie and her mangoes could be in danger. Grave danger. Just then, in another room of the house, Kevin starts the water for his shower. Instantly, the threatening hissing noise is silenced. Almost simultaneously, Stephanie's phone beeps. A text. Who could it be from? WHO??? (cue suspenseful music)


The synchronized stoppage of the strange hissing sound in sync with her son's shower and the incoming text is an awfully big coincidence. (Of course, everyone knows, there are no big coincidences or small coincidences, only coincidences.) Still, she grabs her glowing purple cell, eager to discover who, WHO, has texted at this wee hour of 6:45 a.m.??? It's the cowboy, who left for work just after discovering the hissing noise. Text: Wrench on garage freezer. Turn water off at meter. Leak under house.

There is a leak under the house. A leak. A water leak. Under the house. What to do? WHAT TO DO? (cue William-Shatner-deliberate-pause reading style). The cowboy says turn it off. TURN. IT. OFF. But Kevin is in the shower, preparing to leave for camp in 42 minutes (cue ticking clock sound). Camp! In forty-two minutes! This could be the last decent shower he has for days! And Stephanie has yet to bathe. And it is imperative that she leave for work in 3 hours. Three hours! Not to mention vital laundry to finish - whites AND darks. And teeth to be brushed - 56 between the two of them, as Stephanie's wisdom teeth have been removed and Kevin's have yet to make an appearance. They need the water. NEED the water. (cue suspenseful music, pt.2)


There is a water leak under the house. A potentially disastrous water leak. The water must be turned off, and fast before the crawl space becomes an ocean (cue John Williams' brilliant music from "Jaws"). Yet Stephanie and Kevin need the water to finish getting ready. Stephanie urges Kevin to shower quickly, "Rinse and go, boy, RINSE. AND. GO!" Once out of the shower, Stephanie begins a load of laundry, doing the unthinkable: mixing essential colors with whites in the same load. Now the cowboy's tighty whiteys are in danger of turning pink. PINK. (cue "Get the Party Started") There is not a single western shirt in his closet that goes with pink underpants. Not one. If this happens, he will not be happy. Not be happy at all. But drastic times call for drastic measures. Now Stephanie brushes her teeth while the washer fills, then runs her own bath. Kevin brushes HIS teeth, fills 2 pitchers, and the laundry finishes spinning only moments after Stephanie's legs are shaved, and DONE! And in record time - only 28 minutes from text to wrench twist and the water is OFF!


Stephanie and Kevin are ready in record time, and the water is off, stopping both the leak and the hissing sound (which, of course, are one and the same, but still). Two half-gallon pitchers of water have been filled, giving them enough clean drinking water for 24 hours. Twenty-four hours. Only one day. After that, who knows? What will happen to them? Will they call a plumber? Will they make it a do-it-yourself project? Will they die from dehydration?

Tune in next time for episode 2 of PipeBusters on the Reality Channel.