Catherine's Birth Story
~ written by Allison Ratliff, Catherine's midwife
I met Catherine in the mall nearly two years ago, now. She was wearing a baby in a sling. I always want to talk to moms with babies in slings so I said something to her. I think I told her about which ones were my favorite
slings, and mentioned that I'm lucky because I'm a midwife, and I get to sample all different kinds of slings without buying them. I went on my way in the mall, and she went into the same store that I did and asked me for my card. I went home and told my husband about the incident, and said that maybe I'd see her again in 18 months. Well, 8 or 9 months later I get a phone call.
"Hi, my name is C. You probably don't remember me but I got your card from you in the mall last year."
"Oh yes," I say. "You had the baby in the sling."
Catherine had been having prodromal labor for nearly two weeks. There is nothing more frustrating than laboring and laboring, missing sleep, and not having your baby, but it happens to lots of women. Some people call it "false labor" but there is nothing false about it! On the Friday evening, after her unsuccessful trip to the mall to find a belly binder, I went out to her house and bound up her belly with her Maya wrap sling. I told her that I was not going to give up on her, but that if she wanted to go to the hospital, I would completely understand, because she was really fried from lack of sleep. Catherine's vital signs were all healthy and normal, and the
baby was showing no signs of distress either. We prayed together for Peace, Patience, Perseverance, and Joy in this waiting time. She said something to me at this visit that made me think she would have her baby the next day. She told me that the contractions were really the hardest when she was lying on her side and that she kept walking because it felt better, but she was realizing that maybe she ought to just stay lying down and see if it threw her over into active labor. Guess what? It worked. She surrendered,
listened to her body, and it did not betray her.
Saturday night, Scott called me at about 1am to say that Catherine was having a lot of contractions and that they were about 3-4 minutes apart. When I arrived, she and her friend Amy were in the spare room laboring very calmly and beautifully. Catherine had sent Scott to bed because she knew she would need him to be rested later. I sat with her for a while and then asked if I could do an exam. I felt she was progressing and would be encouraged to know that for sure. It was the only exam she had before she began to push. She was 100% effaced and 6-7cm dilated. Things were finally on the move!
She labored in that room for about two more hours and then moved into the pool. She looked so beautiful laboring there with Scott. I must say that if every woman had a husband as supportive and loving Scott, it would make my job a lot easier, and shorten women's recovery times considerably! Amy was great too; she was everywhere taking pictures, but she was so calm in spirit, that she made no intrusion on Catherine's labor. Catherine was definitely in that transition mode at that point. Not long after, though, she joined back in the conversations and was laughing and smiling except when she was having contractions. I told her "Welcome back" and that she
was most likely completely dilated and asked her if she was feeling pushy with the contractions.
She said she was a little scared to push, and I told her that she might just try a little tiny push and if it was too much, she could just wait it out. Once she started pushing though, she knew it was what she needed to do. She got out and did a couple of 'directed' pushes on the birthing stool and then really needed to move. She wanted to get on the floor, but ended up on the sofa. She pushed really effectively, but was having incredible pain in her back at the site where her epidural was administered for her cesarean. The average woman having her first vaginal birth will push for two hours. Catherine pushed for forty-five minutes! The baby crowned for a long time, through three contractions and it was very painful for Catherine. She pushed with every measure of strength she had and an extra supernatural measure. She pushed so hard she popped a blood vessel in her eye, and got little broken vessels all over her face. Her baby was born in short order.
Scott helped me to pass the baby through to Catherine as she was born. Catherine swooped up the baby into her arms and said, "I did it! I did it! I GAVE BIRTH!" She was covered in blood and meconium and she was Beautiful! Then she looked at Scott who was holding Jonathan and said "Jonathan, look, it's your baby . . ." then she had to stop and look under the towel to see if the baby was a boy or a girl, "sister." Hannah began nursing about 15 minutes after the birth, as if she was born for it . . . of course, she was.
Catherine's recovery has been harder than she thought it would be. There has been sorrow in that for her because she has seen so many moms who just hop right up and get on with life right away. She is recovering quickly though, in my opinion. She did a big job, and birthed a considerable sized baby (9 lbs, thank-you-very-much!) whose shoulders knicked her pretty good on the way out. She has been a model client, and a joy to serve. She eats good whole food, she rests and nurses and listens to her body. She is also blessed to have such a loving extended family to come and care for her while she is recovering. At nearly every post-partum visit I made to her home, I met yet another family member who had come to help her out.