Nellie Rocker's Birth...a test of endurance & acceptance

Rich & Tanya labor in the tub We knew before we even got pregnant that we wanted to have a home birth attended by midwives. We found Christy via the Internet and set up a meeting. It was an instant match for us. Her home office was so peaceful and relaxing - the exact opposite of the medical world I work in (I am an R.N. in the operating room at a Philadelphia hospital).

Our prenatal visits were something we both looked forward to. No matter how tired, stressed or just "pregnant" we were feeling, it all just melted away during the visits where we both felt loved, supported, understood and important.

At 42 weeks labor started. It lasted 4 days. Although it was very long, exhausting and intense, we felt safe in Christy's care. My body was allowed to do what it needed to to reach dilation - something that would never have been allowed in a hospital setting.

After 3 days of labor I was dilated but with a bit of stubborn cervical lip. It wasn't budging despite many position changes. Christy called a fellow midwife for any ideas she might have. After that we used a technique that involved Christy supporting nearly my entire body weight off the side of the bed in a position that did get the job done. I don't know how she could handle being so physical after so many hours of labor. It worked.

Not too much longer and my water broke in the birth tub and then eventually the natural urge to push started. During 5 hours of pushing I felt very safe and encouraged, if tired, after my long labor. Unfortunately at about 4 1/2 hours Christy said we were reaching the limit of safe pushing time at home. If I didn't get the baby out in another half an hour we would need to go to the hospital.

Desperate, tired and shocked that I'd been pushing so long, I was willing to try anything. For 30 minutes we tried positions I hadn't thought I could be bent into before. I pushed till I felt like my joints were coming apart. The Doppler monitored the baby nearly constantly (During the entire 4 days the baby's heart rate had never decelerated). I knew in my heart she was fine but I just couldn't get her the rest of the way out. She was so close I could easily touch her head, but that was as far as it seemed I could get her.

Time was up and we moved on to plan b.

We piled into our truck. Rich drove, I leaned over the car seat in the back and Christy knelt on the floor, coaching me through the urge to push which was so strong now.

At the hospital we were taken right into a room and evaluated by a nurse midwife. Christy had somehow managed to stay at our side - confidently helping me provide my history to this point, despite the cold hostility of the nurse midwife toward her.

We were offered only one option. Caesarean. Christy fought for me, asking why couldn't we try a vaginal delivery? Wouldn't they at least do an exam (NO). An ultrasound revealed what we already knew - the baby had turned posterior (on day 3) and also had her little arm across her neck. She wasn't making things easy!

So, about two hours after entering the hospital our daughter was born via the one way we hadn't wanted - surgery. Christy was still there with Karen (the other midwife) and Laura (the apprentice), waiting for the news. Rich came out to tell them we had just met our beautiful, healthy 8lb 3oz daughter.

Tanya & baby at the hospital

After it was all said and done I wouldn't have done anything differently. We didn't get the home birth we wanted but I got to try. No one ever gave up on me, I didn't give up on myself and I feel like we tried as hard as we could to make it happen. I was allowed to go through labor at my body's pace. In the end, the only drugs I had were via an epidural placed minutes before the baby was delivered. As a result of the minimal drugs and a natural labor, she was able to latch right on and never missed a beat - nursing successfully. It didn't all go as we wanted, but it was still all good in the end and we are a happy, healthy little family thanks in no small part to Christy and her supportive team of Karen and Laura.

Tanya & Nellie back at home.

Tanya, mom of Nellie, born February 2008