HI! My name is Angela Wilde and I am a mother of 4 children. I am 31 years old and I have been a client of Juneau Birth Center 3 times now. They have always been awesome. My birth experiences range from my first “medical” in hospital, to birth center .Initially I always felt that the standard of care, and the way that they nurture their clients, and the way that they promote wellness more in keeping with my values and standards than the doctor/hospital way.
My first birth was when I was 16. I saw doctors and delivered at the hospital. I developed toxemia and was hospitalized for the last week of my pregnancy. I had a very medical birth even though I made my wishes known often that it wasn’t what I wanted. My second birth was at the birth center. It was an awesome experience. How often are your midwives going to make bets about how much a baby weighs?? (he weighed 9 lbs 10 oz) And my third birth also was awesome because for the first time I got to experience labor minus the back labor. YAY!
So when I unexpectedly got pregnant with my 4th….in January of 2009 almost 9 years after my daughter was born, I decided that the only people I would want to be my health care base would be the birth center. I never had major problems with any of my pregnancies, and I was active and healthy. I also prefer an active role in my health care. So just naturally I called them.
My first trimester was… horrible. I had spotting at 6 and again at 8 weeks. I was nauseous and dizzy. I was exhausted all the time. I barely cooked at all for about four and a half months. I realize my poor husband cooked a lot of pizza and burritos for our older kids. And I was working full time. Some days it was all I could do to make it through my work day.
My second trimester was…ok. I was less nauseous. If anything I got more bloated, but I was less tired. I wound up needing a root canal- OMG the pain! I started getting swelling in my feet. My blood pressure crept up instead of going down. And of course my 20 week ultrasound was perfect. Its always good to hear something is perfect when everything else is going to crap.
My third trimester was …ok, but I’ve had better. The swelling I noticed at 5 months barely seemed to go away at night. I fell down and hit my knee so hard when I was 7 months I limped along until the birth. ( still hurts) I had a return of nausea, heartburn. My blood pressure went up, now I was told I had high blood pressure and was monitored for toxemia. I took Hawthorn for the high blood pressure. And then I took a liver tonic – that was awesome because I was less ill/nauseous overall. There was a lot of blood work. And there was the “talk” about what the transport procedures are…. And I cried because I knew in my gut that I would be one of the women who get to go to the hospital.
And then yay! I had only been in Juneau for 3 whole days and my water broke! I was so nervous and so damned excited. How awesome- I will get to go HOME! sooner than I ever thought possible. And it’s also my oldest son’s birthday! So since my water had broken late in the evening, and I called in very early in the morning, with no contractions I had an appointment to see Kay that Tuesday. She decided I would go get my stuff together and come to the birth center to try and get my contractions going.
I met Kristen who was an apprentice midwife . I was given labor enhancer, which did nothing. And then we tried the breast pump. Which gave me painful contractions. But they never seemed to go into a normal pattern, and I never felt like I was in labor. I walked up and down the halls. Eventually it was , yet another day,( well 2 am) and Lorna and my husband and I were all tired. She kept saying that she knew we could do it. But I just said, I know how this is all going, let’s just go to the hospital now. It was over 30 hours since my water broke.
My husband and I walked over to the hospital. It was a beautiful misty rainy night, the street lights glowed like dancing lanterns and the water ran off every surface. What a beautiful start to the life of my baby. We were soaked by the time we made it inside the hospital. It was so calm. Lorna was there and she helped get me checked in. She was awesome. She helped with the million questions that the doctor and nurses had. And then we were left to “sleep”.
At 6 am they came in and started my induction. I was 1cm dilated and not effaced. I had breakfast. We watched bad tv, we talked, joked, made phone calls. So by 10 am I was having contractions that were uncomfortable. The kind of contractions you want to have when you are in labor- I was finally in labor. I know I got “checked” somewhere in the 10-11 am hours and I remember that I was almost fully effaced but only about 4 cm dilated. I was cussing on one hand, and on the other cheering because most of the “work” associated with labor is effacement. The doctor made some asinine comment about pain management, and other options if this didn’t work. I swear maybe they should talk to the women in labor instead of rushing to the machines!
At this point I was in fully committed labor, I could feel it. Labor is like a diesel engine revving and changing gears as it speeds up. You can feel the gears change. At this point your body takes over and you are along for the ride. At 11 am I remember looking at the clock. I only did it a couple times because I was in so much pain. Lorna had me use the birthing ball- for the first time. And I was having wicked back labor. A nurse actually managed to stay in my room for a couple minutes and noticed I was having contractions that were too long and too strong, and she turned down the Pitocin. Of course it doesn’t feel like it because of the chemical processes. And then I remember starting to say I wanted to quit, wanted pain meds, wanted to kill …lol. But in the back of my mind I was cheering because this is TRANSITION!!!
So the doctor comes in to check me… and boy was he surprised. 9cm. Ready to push in a minute. I barely made it off the bed when I was hit by a contraction that was different, and I knew my body was pushing whether or not I was. I made it to the birthing stool, and another contraction, this time I pushed. And the nurse, the doctor and Lorna jumped and scrambled like nothing I remember ever seeing- birth was happening NOW! Lorna and the nurse managed to get gloves on… and I pushed through this massive brain busting contraction, and my baby girl was born. Olivia Alyssa Wilde was born at 12:21pm on September 22 weighing in at 6 lbs and one token oz . She was 18 inches long. And it was agreed that she was right on the money for 38 weeks gestation.- which of course made her due date October 1. She was so tiny. She was also tongue tied, which I was assured wasn’t a major handicap.
I forgot to take pictures until Lorna reminded me. And they weren’t that good.
I also had an OMG moment when I saw her the first time without her hat. I thought OMG, OMG they’ve given me someone else’s baby, this one can’t be mine because she has a full head of dark hair. And then I had a reality check- I saw the nurse tag my baby. This is my baby. lol. My baby has dark hair. And did I mention that the nurse who was there to help catch Olivia was there when my oldest son was born?! And her name… Katie Perry. LOL.
My blood pressure didn’t return to normal. My swelling didn’t go down. They kept doing blood work on me every few hours. I was prescribed blood pressure meds by the doctor who oversaw my labor in the hospital. I finally got to leave YAY! on Friday. But had to return to the hospital in a couple days for more blood work. Apparently the high blood pressure had done some minor damage to my kidneys, and the doctor hoped that when my blood pressure returned to normal that my kidneys would recover. Meds and taking my blood pressure every day… sarcastic yay.
Instead of going home, I got to stay in Juneau for another week . I had several visits from Lorna. I got to eat at a couple restaurants and spend some time with my husband. It was a nice vacation.
Two weeks later ,the day that I took Olivia in for her PKU at Public Health I woke up just not feeling well. My chest ached and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I felt tired and I ached all over. I thought it was maybe a pulled muscle or the flu. By afternoon I was having “gasping for air” episodes while sitting down, and I figured that maybe I should go to the clinic. The doctors ran through all kinds of possibilities for what might be wrong with me, but they were concerned. So I was given an inhaler, and told to come back tomorrow.
That was, in my experience the longest most painful night of my life. The one time I can say with absolute certainty I should have called an ambulance. I couldn’t lay down, at all. I could barely sleep. Every little while I would try to breathe and nothing would happen. My chest hurt so bad I cried while trying to take care of my baby, scared that I was just going to keep suffering and the doctors would never figure this horrible thing out. So the next morning I went back to see the doctor. They did more tests. And then they started seeing me gasping for air. And they ordered a d-dymer test ( a test for blood clotting ). They told me that they had discontinued it recently because it didn’t make sense to carry it etc, etc. but they had arranged for it to be run at the lab at Bartlett because that was the closest lab, and a medivac was going out and they could hand deliver it to the lab. So a couple hours later I was told to come back for a shot of heparin, and handed my travel papers, instructions to go to the Bartlett emergency room etc because my clotting levels were high, and I needed to get to the airport to catch the last plane out.
To finish this crazy tale… I made it to Bartlett, they thought it was a pulled muscle. I endured more tests.. Ct scan on my back I felt like I was suffocating to death. Thank god my friend was there to hold Olivia. And just when everyone assured me I would probably be going home, not to worry, its midnight, in walks the ER doctor. I could tell by his face all was not well. He told me my condition was very serious, that I would be admitted immediately. My lungs were filled with blood clots, the right side all over and the left side along the lower lobe. I was suffering from a massive pulmonary embolism. I was in the hospital a week. I was on blood thinners for 6 months.
I seem to have had one of those pregnancy/birth/postpartum experiences that nobody ever would have guessed. I jokingly said a couple of times that I should get in touch with the “what to expect” writers and have them write a book geared for the “its gone completely awry “crowd. It’s also a riot to see how fast you can go from, “don’t worry, you can go home in a little bit “ to “NO, you may NOT use the restroom without a nurse!” Just be aware, when you point out that you’ve already had to board a commercial flight unassisted by a medic, with luggage and your nearly newborn, they aren’t swayed in the least.