REAL MOTHERS - TRUE STORIES
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April Fazzini birth experience

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Educate yourself. Look at the studdies and the stats. You might be surprised to find that, on average, a midwife assisted natural birth may result in less chance of complications, fewer interventions, and a healthier birth for you and for your baby.
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April Fazzini
My name is April and I am 26 years old. I had my first baby, Clover, at home on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:45 am.

I had decided some months earlier that I wanted a home birth. There were many reasons I wanted to do it home. The more I looked into my options, the safer I felt about a homebirth over having my baby in the hospital. I loved that I would be able to have as many people there as I wanted, and I would be in the comfort of my own home. I would also be able to move around, get in the bathtub, and I wouldnít have pressure on me to have my baby in the hospital's timeframe. I could take my time and let things progress as nature intended, without any drugs to speed up labor, or pain medication that may slow it down. I did not want my baby to be exposed to strong drugs, especially after the care I had taken of the baby and myself throughout my pregnancy. Homebirth was definitely the best option for me.

I read about the Bradley Method for pain relief and I studied the techniques, which I planned on using during labor. Through the Bradley Method, I learned how to relax fully, which helped tremendously in early labor and between contractions. I felt I was reasonably prepared for my birth. I educating myself with all the information I could get my hands on. Nothing can completely prepare a first-time mother for having a baby but the knowledge I gain helped a lot.

My partner, Jud, and I were living in different states at the time, which was difficult, but he planned on being there for the birth. We focused on the 14th (3 days past my due date), and Jud booked a flight to come out from the 10th to the 17th. We were pretty determined to have the baby while he was in here with me. He helped me with the Bradley techniques and we used several suggested natural methods to help labor progress.

On Monday the 14th we went to see my midwife, Janae Sherman, for my weekly checkup. I was a little discouraged when she told me I was only about 1 cm dilated as I had 2 incidences of false labor so I thought I may be a bit further along than that. Jud and I went home and really concentrated on getting labor going. I went to bed Monday night hoping that things would be happening soon. To my delight, I woke at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning to find I was having contractions every 4 or 5 minutes and they were lasting about 45 seconds. I tried not to get too excited because of the previous false labor. We put on some home movies from when I was younger for Jud to see. I ate something and we went for a little walk. We also practiced the Bradley Method the pass the time. By 3pm I felt like things were getting pretty serious and I knew this was it for sure. I was bleeding a little and my contractions were getting closer together and more intense. I called Janae to let her know what was happening and to ask how far along she thought I was. She came right over to check on me. I was about 4cm. I was somewhat disappointed as I had been in labor for 9 hours but I accepted it and kept trying to relax and conserve my energy. Janae went home for a while and told me to call whenever I wanted her to come back. I stayed on my bed for a while and Jud helped me relax. Around 6pm I decided it was time to try the bathtub. It felt amazing and really helped with the pain. Jud poured hot water over my belly every time I had a contraction. He never left my side and talked my through each contraction. I stayed in the bath for a while; Jud added hot water to keep me comfortable.

When I got out of the bath I called Janae to have her come over. By this time I had lost any modesty and spent the rest of my labor naked. It didnít seem to matter. Janae checked me again at around 7:30. I was about 6cm. I labored on my bed for a while and tried a one leg up position, which seemed to help some. I started to get tired there so I got back in the tub, which was such a relief. I was in there a while, then tried sitting facing the toilet. This felt good as it took pressure off my bottom. When I sat on the toilet Jud and Janae put hot washcloths on my back and abdomen. It felt good to have them really hot; I didnít realize I was nearly scalding myself. I have a picture of my back after doing that all night, it was bright red!

By 3:30 a.m. we were all getting tired and I had been at 8cm for a while. We decided to break my water to try and help things along. Janae tried to break it with her fingers but it wasnít happening so she got out an instrument which resembled a crochet hook and that did the trick. It was strange having all that water gushing out of me, but my contractions didnít feel any different.

Shortly after that my contractions did get a little more intense. I was stuck between 8-9cm for a while. My cervix was like a rubber band, stretching then going back. I had been pushing with my contractions since before Janae broke my water, trying to help open my cervix up a bit. I now started to push with a bit more intensity. It felt good to push even though I wasnít fully dilated so I kept at it. If I would have know how long I was going to be pushing I may not have started so soon, but once I started it was hard to stop as I felt I was getting somewhere by being active. Itís hard to know if it was the best thing to do, but I tried to listen to my body.

We all thought since my water had been broken things would speed up. This wasnít entirely true though. It would be another 4 hours until I had my baby. I had been in labor for 21 hours at this point. The next 4 hours were by far the most difficult. I was very tired. My only saving grace was that I still had pretty good rests between contractions and I was able to relax completely. My mom later told me that I had a look of complete peace and calm- the appearance of sleep- between contractions. I suppose practicing the Bradley Method paid off. I knew I had to rest or I would completely run out of energy.

Janae had me push harder with my contractions and she tried to stretch my cervix out with each one. After a bit I moved to the bathroom and squatted in front of the sink, holding on to the faucet. I didnít imagine myself in that position but it felt right at the time. My contractions were so strong now, and I was so tired, I began to lose my determination. I went back to the living room and stayed there for the remainder of my labor. Jud and Janaeís assistant Trish held my legs way back and I tilted my pelvis towards the ceiling. Between contractions they held my legs so I could rest. Janae was stretching my cervix still, which was very painful. She could feel my babyís head pushing down on my cervix, I just was dilated enough to get her through. She let me put my fingers up there to feel her head. It as amazing but frustrating! I knew I was so close, but I was still going to have to push her out the birth canal.

I felt I couldnít do it anymore. I started to ask if I could go to the hospital and get some pain drugs. I really thought I didnít have the strength to go on. Fortunately, I had a lot of very supportive people around me who knew I could do it. They believed in me and that kept me from transferring to the hospital. I had forewarned them I probably would ask for crazy things in the self-doubt stage of labor. This meant I was getting close, but after being in labor that long I couldnít see that. Everyone was tired. I was losing strength. At the same moment, Janae and I both thought we needed to call in some back up. She called the midwife who trained her, Liz Smith. She was home and she lived close so she was there within a few minutes. When she got there I told her I didnít think I could go on and wanted to transfer. She told me if I went to the hospital I would probably have the baby in the car on the way. Liz asked me if I was willing to try something before we resorted to a transfer. She told Jud and Trish to put my legs back even further and she tilted my pelvis more towards the ceiling. With my next contraction she told me to push with all my might, and she continued to stretch my cervix. It was excruciatingly painful! She kept doing this with the next few contractions, and my cervix was opening up. With each one I thought I canít do this anymore, but somehow I found the strength.

Liz asked me what I was going to name the baby. I said if it was a girl, Clover, but not sure about a boy. She started calling her Clover, even though we didnít know that the gender was going to be. Liz prayed for me and told Clover to come on out.

Finally she was out of the cervix and into the birth canal. I was so relieved to get to that point and start pushing for real now! It really didnít feel different from what I was doing before. I think after about 20 minutes my babyís head was crowning. Everyone was telling me they could see the head. I knew I was almost there. I found the energy to keep going. I was going to meet my baby soon! Within just a few intense pushes and an incredible burning sensation the head was out. I could tell I had ripped but had no idea how much. Next I pushed the shoulders out, which was easier than the head, and she slipped out.

When they told me I had a girl I was elated! I had secretly wished for a girl, even though everyone thought I was having a boy. Clover was handed to me. I put her on my chest and she cried her first cry. What a beautiful sound, my babyís first cry. We wrapped her in a warm blanket and I held her there for a while and waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Jud did the honors of cutting the cord. I still had to push out the placenta, but that came out fairly easily. I was surprised at how big it was!

Liz gave me a couple shots to numb me and Janae stitched me up. I ended up with 4 stitches (not fun!). It wasnít that bad after giving birth though. I was holding my baby so I didnít really care much about the stitches. She was so beautiful. I could hardly believe that it was all over. 9 months of waiting and 25 hours of labor and I finally got to meet my little angel. That moment was magical.

I canít remember, with perfect clarity, the hours following her birth, as I was so exhausted. We managed to start breastfeeding fairly quickly. I had no idea what I was doing, despite reading all the books beforehand. Itís a skill that is developed over time and practice. We were both novices. It took about 2 months for me to feel I was really doing it right! Janae bathed Clover weighed her at 7lbs 9oz and 19 and 1/2 inches. I was shocked that she was that big as I really didnít feel like I had a big baby in me. I had only gained 21 lbs throughout my pregnancy. I was pleased that she was a good healthy weight.

We spent the day in bed trying to rest and figuring out nursing. Clover stayed awake quite a bit, looking around at everything. She was eager to see the world around her (which she still does). She doesnít seem to require as much sleep as a Ďnormalí baby is supposed to. She is very alert and tuned into the world around her and she is very active. She had good head control from birth and only sits still when sheís asleep.

Clover is 16 weeks old now and I am just finishing my birth story. She really keeps me busy all the time. I am enjoying this stage of smiles and laughs, and I am thankful that she seems happy. She sleeps in the bed with me to make breastfeeding at night easier and also for bonding. She still wakes up 3 or 4 times a night, but I am getting used to being up a lot at night. Itís part of being her mom. I never dreamed that having a baby could bring me so much joy. Every day it seems like she does something new. I am looking forward to all the wonderful years to come!