Supporting Mothers
HomeAbout DoulasServicesTestimonialsBirth StoriesResourcesResearchContact Me

Let me start with my first born child, David.  David Alan to be exact.  Well, actually, let's start from I got married at 18 in August and was pregnant a few months after.  He was definitely planned, but we hadn't been married very long.  I was working at Sears at the time.  I carried him so high, and I was little, that he didn't show until around the seventh month.  I basically didn't have to wear maternity clothes since that's when I went into labor with him, close to exactly two months premature.  His due date was July 25 and he was born on May 23.  I knew that I wanted to name him David, although I didn't know he was a boy.  I don't even remember what his name was going to be if he was a girl.  That was part of it, I waited to find out what all my babies were until they were born, because that seemed like part of the experience.  I trusted Dr. Hayes, he had been my OB, and still do, in fact he delivered all my children.  So I wanted to be with him at Overlake Hospital, where I had all my children.  And I believe I had each of them in a different wing, as the hospital was upgraded over the years.  We hadn't had a chance to go to hardly any classes, like Lamaze or anything, since he was so early.  Oh and that's another thing, it's not we're pregnant, okay?  The woman is pregnant.  Yes, we are going to have a child, but there is no we about it when you are the one in labor.  And I didn't know what to expect, never going into labor before.  We might have been able to stop the labor, had I known what the beginning stages of labor felt like.  Dr. Hayes had told me to take it easy and to go home to rest.  Well, home for me was at my mom's house.  But anyway, it was a long labor, my mom and my sister Lynn took me to the hospital and called Brian (husband) so that he could come.  He was born at 2:59 a.m.  He was five pounds eight ounces, but 19 inches long so he looked like a bean pole.  He had no baby fat on him.  They said, had he been full term, he would have been almost ten pounds, and no thank you for delivering something that big!  At that time, they still used nurseries, so that is where they put him.  Later that morning after delivery, they brought him to me to try to start breastfeeding, and the nurse looked down and he had turned blue.  And she just ran with him out of the room.  I don't think Overlake at that time was set up to handle neonatal trauma.  Had the nurse not seen what she had seen, because I didn't catch it, I didn't know, then I don't think that he would have made it this far.  I can't even imagine what I would have done.....(crying).  Sorry, I hadn't thought of this in 24 years.  Alright so, now that I've composed myself again.  They basically just immediately rushed him to Children's Hospital because that was the only place at that time that could handle premature or neonatal critical care.  Children's is still the best hospital in the world.  There's no two ways about it in my mind, as far as children and what they deal with.  I believe at that point Brian had gone home to change and I called him panicked.  Called everyone else, and they all went over to Children's Hospital and I got to stay at Overlake.  Because in those days, Dr. Hayes made you stay for three days.  Back when I had David it was fine, it was when I had Brianna (that) insurance didn't want to cover it anymore.  But if the doctor wanted you to stay there he could go to the insurance company and say, "No, this person is going to stay".  He firmly believed, and he still does, that because of what a woman's body goes through in birth, you need that extra time that you're not going to get when you go home with a newborn, to actually regain your strength.  Even if it's at the expense of the hospital and the insurance company.  For that, he is truly a doctor that you don't find nowadays.  Like I said, when David was born he was all long, very thin.  He looked like a monkey, sorry dude, you looked like a monkey with lots of hair on your head.  So they rushed him that morning to Children's Hospital.  Well I didn't get to go, even though I begged to go. That was probably the hardest thing in my entire life, when I had just gone through labor with this child and couldn't go with him, and (to) not know what was going to happen.  So then we started basically a round the clock watch, they did.  Brian was over there, his parents were there, my parents were there, my sisters were there, everybody took turns.  They couldn't hold David because he was in a special crib.  David was a fighter though, he was a fighter even then. They put the IV tubes in his hands and arms, and David wasn't having that.  So they had to shave his head, and they put the IV in his head.  In those days you didn't have digital pictures, so they took pictures and brought them back (to me), until I was finally released.  And the whole time, I was doing the whole milking machine cow routine to get milk which they would rush over.  At that time, your milk doesn't come in for 48 hours, they still fed David through the tube.  Then I was released from Overlake and I went over there with him, and David stayed in the hospital for a week.  At that time, for David to only stay in the hospital a week was actually really good because he was so strong.  So that was the third day, he still couldn't suck very well.  He was still fed from the tube, for the first week I think.  Then we finally got him to where he could nurse a little bit.  Because he was premature, the last two months they still sleep a lot in the womb, so David would sleep a lot.  It was a struggle the first month, was a huge struggle.  It was also a lot of praying, had I not had that belief back then, I honestly do not believe that David would be alive.  It was exhaustion, after the first month it was incredible.  It was round the clock, I had to wake David up every two hours to feed him.  So to wake David up, at that point, required taking a half hour to get him to wake up, getting him to nurse, and if I was lucky he took an ounce and a half of milk, and then he fell back asleep getting the rest of the milk out of me.  We had a lot of milk in the fridge, let me tell you (laughing), and then expelling the rest of the milk and by that time it was time to wake David up again.  So it was a battle of wills so to speak.  His head was bigger than the rest of his body, and they drop weight anyway, so by the time we left the hospital he was down to five pounds or 4.9.  So my mom came over religiously and gave him baths, because in all honesty, I was afraid I would break his neck or something (laughing).  He didn't have the strength being he was premature.  So basically David did grow, he gained strength and started taking more milk and more and more, and I got off the milking machine, thank God (laughing).  After about a month, I remember totally basically collapsing because I was absolutely exhausted.  Brenda came over and took me and David to her house and put me to bed for a day.  And I regained my strength and we continued on.  So with David, was his birth hard?  No, I wasn't ready to go into labor at that time and I went natural with David because of what was going on. The whole natural thing was happening really big and Dr. Hayes also didn't want any drugs in my system.  Any drugs that are in your system, obviously, enter the baby's system.  Dr. Hayes didn't want anything to go in, via epidural, that would slow down the labor because he wasn't sure what was going to happen with David over all.  But even that was "natural" for then, because they cut you and made sure you're ready so that every thing doesn't go the opposite way, the thought of tearing is not fun.  I do a lot, I continually do a lot.  I never sit.  I always have to be doing something, so relaxing for me is really hard.  Which is part of probably why I did have the kids early, or why my body went into labor early.  Because at that time I was still working at Sears, I was going to BCC, I was pregnant; I was doing it all.  So part of that I think does contribute to premature births.  I'm no expert on it, but I will be willing to bet that's part of it.  I remember that he was still curled and he didn't want to uncurl for the first month or two. He still wanted to be in the fetal position that he was used to, being the womb, so we used to have to roll up even all of his newborn sleepers because he was so small.  And if I remember correctly, the first time we really even took him out in public was to go see Star Wars; he was about four months old.  My parents were going through a divorce at that time.  My mom always was, and is, a staunch supporter of everything I have ever done, and didn't have a problem with being a grandma.  She was 52 or 53.  She was young, but not as young as I am when Brianna made me one!  My dad however (was) not quite as excited, but he did grow to be more excited.  I remember there was a beer back then called Dab and David's initials were D.A.B.  So the first time he (the grandfather) came to visit after David was born, maybe like two weeks after, he brought over a six pack of Dab beer for Brian, not for me.  My biggest concern, too, was that my brother was also born premature.  He was born about two months early, so premature births also ran in our family.  There was a lot of concern, on my part, even at that young of an age.  I guess my biggest fear was that I would loose David, but he was a fighter and he held on and he grew.  So on to Brianna, I got pregnant with Brianna when we were in Germany.  Brian was stationed over there and we were in Hanau.  Brianna was due April fifth, some things you don't forget!  And I had her April first, and I swore when I got pregnant, I wouldn't have her on April Fool's Day (laughing).  I came home when I was about five months pregnant, right after Christmas time.  I came home a month before Brian did because Brian was being transferred back here to the military.  And then he was going to get out, or we hadn't decided, and David was three and half.  And up to that point it had been a great pregnancy, I had had the usual morning sickness.  I didn't carry Brianna the same way as David; I carried her lower and more in front. Brianna was actually my biggest child, of all three of my children.  Brianna was eight pounds 13 ounces when she was born.  I mean, when I finally had her I was like a whale (laughing), you could have balanced a pizza on my stomach.  I am not kidding!  I was so far out there!  So the hardest part with Brianna was the flight home from Germany.  The flight was so long, so tedious, and we hit turbulence like crazy over the ocean.  It was awful, and then I had to go through customs with David and being pregnant.  It was a mess.  And then we tried to get into SeaTac and they diverted the plane to Portland because of the fog at that time.  So then we landed in Portland, this was like 11 o'clock at night, and they chartered a bus to bring us up to Seattle.  And I was sick as a dog and I hadn't been sick with her up until this point.  We had everyone waiting for us at the airport because we had been gone for two and half years.  David was only like ten months old when we left for Germany, so he hadn't seen my mom or anybody else since he was a baby.  Everybody ended up waiting there at the airport until like three o'clock in the morning ‘til we got there; my mom, my dad, my sisters.  That was probably the sickest I really was with Brianna.  Brian came back later the next month, and I lived with my mom the next couple months until I had Brianna, because he was at the base.  The first time I went into labor with Brianna was about six months, but I recognized the signs so I went to the hospital.  Dr. Hayes was my doctor by that time, because I was back here, and there was nobody else who was delivering my kids, no matter what!  Put me on that medicine and I can't remember what the name of it is, but it stops the contractions.  But my body actually kept rejecting it.  I wasn't on the drip, you could take it either in pill form or you could have a drip that actually went directly into your body. However, that medicine is not fun, it is horrible.  It makes your heart rate like your having a heart attack.  It's an experience that I would not recommend.  However the choices of having her premature, and remembering what had happened with David, was not something I was going to do.  So if I remember correctly I think I went to the hospital probably two or three times in labor with Brianna and we managed to get it stopped every time.  Then finally I carried her to full term and I was still living at my moms because it was just easier for me to be closer to the hospital.  I was due to have her April fifth and I went in to see Dr. Hayes March 30 for my visit.  We were down to weekly visits at that point before you had the baby.  Well mister lovely man that he is, he is going on vacation, and was concerned that he wasn't going to make it back on the fifth.  His concern, as well, was that the medicine they put you on to stop labor, they never know if birth defects are gonna  happen; there's a whole lot of stuff they don't know.  Well Dr. Hayes, bless his heart, decided that he was going to pull my plug, and we all know what that means.  So he decided on that last visit he was going to send me into labor early. Lovely man, but he didn't tell me this until afterwards, I did not know.  So later that night I went into labor because I was only four days out, I had basically carried her full term.  So we figured she was plenty big enough, she was going to be fine to be born.  My mom and Lynn again drove me to the hospital; they had this thing going about taking me to the emergency room.  At that time, I think we had finished taking more Lamaze classes or something because I knew more about the breathing and the rubbing your stomach. However my mom did not, and at this point Brian had not made it there.  You didn't have cell phones back then!  So we had to locate him at Fort Lewis to get him here, so my mom was in labor with me when I was in hard labor with Brianna.  And I was telling her, "Rub my belly!" and I was hooked up to everything, and she didn't know what to do.  They didn't do any of that in her day, so she was looking at my belly like, "What does she mean rub my belly?!"  And then I was trying to do all the breathing, the hees and all that crap.  Yeah right, like that helped.  At one point, I hyperventilated.  I remember the nurse trying to get me back under control and I was so far past the point of being under control; that hee hee ho ho shit does not work (laughing).  It works for a while and then you get to a point where it's like, screw this crap.  They managed to get me back under control because at that point I was basically going into shock.  Which was when they decided they were going to try to do an epidural to try to cut down on the pain and advance Brianna.  Dr. Hayes was there the whole time.  The epidural didn't take, because if you're not quite right or positioned correctly, then sometimes they don't take all the way, which is probably part of the issues with my spine.  So Brianna got to be born natural anyway, thank you very much.  Brianna was born at 4:59.  The epidural didn't take until after she was born.  I finally got to the point where I was dilating and moving fast enough, that when they gave it to me it was really too late.  However the plus side to that, no body knows this, but with your second child your after-cramps are much worse. So that piece of it actually helped in the long run, because I was a little more numb a little while longer after Brianna was born.  For me, the most exciting piece in all my births was first of all finding out if it was a boy or girl.  Then, is everything okay?  Are all the toes and fingers and legs there?  Are they all attached?  And when you are pregnant that is the biggest concern that goes through your life; that's just the biggest, biggest thing you think about.  Is your child going to be healthy and if not what then?  At that time at Overlake Hospital, I think there was a mirror behind the doctor so I could see more of the birth, cuz you don't usually get to see a lot; the belly is still there!  With Brianna, they still took them out of the room to clean them up.  They didn't do like they do now with everything there in the room.  They let you hold the baby and then they took them out of the room to clean them up, and then brought them back immediately within the next half hour so you could bond and do all that.  And when Brianna was born, she did have all the full nursing capacity and all that.  So we tried to do that, and then they took her to the nursery.  Even at that time, which was a couple years after David, they still were trying to give the mom some extra rest.  I think I was in labor with Brianna somewhere between fifteen and sixteen hours, and I think I was in hard labor probably eight or nine hours. Hard labor's not much fun either, let me tell you, that shit's hard labor (laughing).  But for some stupid reason we as women forget it as soon as the child is born, I do not know why!  But that night I was walking very slowly after being cut, because somebody's head was so big!  You want to talk about wrinkles, that child had baby fat! (Laughing).  But Brianna was a beautiful baby.  Later that night, I was sitting in the nursery where she was before she was brought back to the room again, and Dr. Hayes came to see me.  He would come in the morning on the way to his office and at night, too, when he was making his rounds.  I remember him sitting beside me and telling me how beautiful Brittaney was, and I said "Aren't all babies beautiful?" and he said, "No, I remember quite a few that are not quite as beautiful as others".  He has three sons and he had had two sons by this point.  I remember his wife was pregnant at the same time I was with David, and she was due July fifth before David was due, but I ended up beating them because David came early.  So he still has three sons to this day and we talk about them every time I see him, just like we do about my kids.  My only challenge with Brianna was because of what was going on with me and Brian, the challenging piece being how I was going to balance all that out; separate story!  Anyway apart from that she was fine, I stayed in the hospital for three days and then I went home with her.  She took to nursing right away.  Stupidly I had only nursed Brianna, so like with David when I finally weaned him and he went straight to the bottle cuz he had been used to taking bottles, but Brianna hadn't.  So at about two months, when I was going to work in an office because we needed to both be working at that time, she didn't want to quit nursing! She was not going to take the bottle for anything, so Brianna being the headstrong person that she is, we fought all weekend to try to get this two month old baby to stop nursing and start taking the bottle.  It was a battle, let me tell ya.  And eventually, I mean I was still pumping, but I had to go back to work, so that was the biggest struggle that I remember when she was a baby.  Up until she was just about a year old, she had red hair just like Joshua (her son).  Because my mom's mom was a redhead, she was Irish.  She was the only one.  David and Cassandra were both brown, and Brianna was a redhead up ‘til her first year and then it turned to blonde.  Okay, moving on to child number three, this is exhausting.  David was ten at that time and Brianna was six when Cassandra was born, so they were nine and five when I was pregnant. And with Cassandra I also went into labor early, like I said, my body didn't have the patience to make it nine months for some reason.  So with Cassandra I again went into labor roughly around five or five and half months.  I ended up staying at the hospital a two different times before I had her, overnight for two days, so they could make sure they could prevent her from being born premature.  And with Cassandra I had a lot of spotting which I didn't have with the other two kids, which was another thing that they were concerned about.  So at about five and a half months, I was still working at that time on Mercer Island doing inside sales, and that's when they put me on that medicine again whatever it is called.  So that stopped that for a while, and then another month went by and I went into labor again.  So he (the doctor) basically ordered me to bed rest the last two months, so I ended up quitting my job at the office.  And you want to talk about something that was a killer, for someone who is used to being active and moving no matter what, bed rest is a killer.  It is the hardest, hardest thing to have to sit there, while I still had the other two kids, and try not to be active. You go stir crazy; that's how I ended up taking up embroidering.  I did Cassandra's baby blanket; I mean you had to kill time somehow.  So that part was really, really hard. He also had me on the drip, whatever that medicine is, to prevent going into labor early. But I ended up going to the hospital, James (second husband) and I did at least twice I remember to stop the labor again.  For some reason my body did not want to be pregnant.  I didn't stick out as far with her as I had with Brianna.  Although she was only two ounces less, so it was still big, but she was turned sideways.  So since I carried each one of them a little different I really wasn't quite sure what each of their sexes were gonna be.  I actually had a feeling (with) Cassandra for some reason.  I've found when you're picking out kids names, I've heard this from friends who have kids as well, when you chose names, the first name you chose tends to be what the child's going to be in all honesty.  Like with David, I knew I was going to name him David, and with Brianna I had her name picked out as well.  I had gone a day or two past my due date, because the medicine I was on will do that, and also it increases the blood sugar in the body in the baby so they can't let you stay pregnant.  Like (usually) they would let you go up to a week, God forbid!  When you look like a beluga whale!  But when they put you on this medicine, they won't let you go that long, it's not a good thing.  So we picked a date to have her induced because I figured my dad's birthday was the next day and I figured I knew how long my labors were (and) I may be in labor that long.  And Dr. Hayes was available that day, it always came down to Dr. Hayes I noticed.  They told us to go out to breakfast, and to come to the hospital at like 11 o'clock.  James and I went out to eat in the morning, my mom had the kids.  At the hospital, they hooked me up to the pictocin to induce labor.  Ha, okay, that stuff freaken sucks, there is no two ways about it.  When people tell me that they are going to be induced, I don't even say anything because I am afraid of what I will say.  Yeah, let's talk about that, that shit kicks you into hard labor, immediately.  In normal labor your body gradually builds up to it, and even though you get tired, like with David it was so long, your body still builds up to it.  So by noon I was in hard labor, the problem was that my body wasn't ready to be in hard labor, so normally when you're not induced everything in your body works together, so your body starts to do what it is supposed to do.  That didn't happen.  It was just like boom.  All these months you've been trying to prevent this child from happening and now you want to force her out?! (Laughing).  James was there the whole time with me, with Cassandra, although he was a little fascinated with all the different medical equipment in the room.  I had to bring him back into reality a few times.  But he was there the whole time; he was really supportive and fed me the ice chips and did all that stuff.  At this point, the hospital was more family oriented so when you had the baby, they might have still taken her out to be cleaned, but then she was there with me in the room the whole time.  So it was different than the others.  With this one it was like the revolving door of family, it was a circus.  We had my mom, my sisters, Margaret (sister) was there, we had the kids, James' family was there; all waiting in the waiting room for me to have this child.  And I still remember James' mom, Anita, taking pictures of me when I'm in labor, because as she put it, had never seen anybody who looked so good going through labor.  I did manage to tell her what she could do with her camera at one point, cuz trust me when your in labor your gonna use some language that boy, you could make a truck driver blush.  There was quite a little bit of that language stuff going on.  So James was there the whole time trying to keep me under control, which took a lot. Then the other thing James did which was so much fun, because on the monitors you can see when you're going to have a contraction, he would tell me they're coming up!  Don't you think I freaken know what's coming?!  You get like a minute in between to rest, when you're in hard labor.  Cassandra was the hardest one because she was born at 9:40 at night, so I was in hard labor with her the longest amount of time.  And at that point I wasn't as young as with the other two, I was 29 years old.  So even then, even in between that and six years previous when I had Brianna, your body changes and you feel different, you feel different things.  So I basically wasn't dilating, I mean I would dilate a little bit, then nothing was happening, nothing was happening.  I finally got to the point when I didn't want anyone in the room.  When all the babies were born, Brian was there for the first two and with Cassandra it was just James.  In all honesty, I don't know if my mom wanted to be there.  She wanted to see them right after, but not as they were coming out.  Now the experience of seeing Joshua (grandson) be born was an experience I will never forget.  I can also understand in a way, being a grandma now, how men must feel, because they are helpless.  So back to Cassandra, somewhere around six o'clock at night when Dr. Hayes came to check on me, they did an epidural to try to get me to relax enough so that the contractions would actually work, so that I would dilate.   That epidural took; in fact I told the anesthesiologist that I was in love with him (laughing).  I remember my dad being on the phone, he called because he wasn't in the waiting room with the fifteen other people, he was like, "Can't you hold out a couple hours longer?"  And I remember telling him off too, I got to tell off quite a few people.  I was like, "No, I cannot hold off!  You know what? It aint happening Dad!"  Anyway I couldn't feel to push because they had given me so much.  I couldn't feel even when they laid on my stomach to try to help, that's how numb I was.  So at one point the anesthesiologist had to push back one of my legs by laying on it, and James laid on the other one to try to give me enough weight to push against to get Cassandra out.  They did have a mirror because I do remember seeing Cassandra come out.  You know, boy or girl?  All the fingers and toes?  Yes, everything was there.  James cut the cord and I remember they took her out of the room and James went with her while I was just laying there having a conversation with Dr. Hayes while he was sewing me back up.  The things you remember afterwards!  At that point I was feeling damn good I was like, "Wow, I made it finally!"  He still made me stay the three days, but Cassandra was in the room with me, whereas with the other two they were in the nursery or the different hospital.  Which I think is a really neat thing; they really do need to do that.   And then for some reason with Cassandra I remember them checking the placenta, they always have to check that to make sure.  James brought in the kids first I wanted them to see their new sister.  And then my mom came in, and then James' mom came in, and then, Jesus Christ, every one else.  I think Margaret knocked everyone out of the way, because she was next, then everybody else one after another after another.  And then coming home with Cassandra, I ended up having a daycare here at that house until she was two. Brianna was a big help because she changed her diapers.  I think having them older and a little farther apart really helped a lot too.  I am not one of those people who could have children back to back.  It wouldn't happen, there's no way.  I could not handle that, but I know that for myself.  Could I handle having a child now?  No.  In fact, I had my tubes tied when I was 34 on purpose to prevent, because of the fact that we are very fertile. There is no two ways about it; we get pregnant at the drop of a hat.  My mom did, I did, and that's why I worry about Brianna.  So I had my tubes tied because I knew that I had had my children.  I also knew earlier in life that I would have three children and that would be it.  So those were the three children I knew I had.  So looking back, of them which was the hardest physically?  The hardest one was Cassandra because I was kicked into hard labor immediately, after so many months of saying you're not having this child and then boom, yeah you are.  Big difference.  Mentally and emotionally, David's was the roughest of all of them.  I also knew I would have them young for a reason, which is I'm sure one of the reasons why I went into early menopause.  I think that is always a part of everything, what you know and what you think.  I went into early menopause when I was 38, my mom did too, so I knew that I also was going to do that.  So now I've been in full blown menopause since I was 41, and I'm 43 and for me that was no problem.  I don't mind at all!  And now we have Joshua, too, which half the time when I take him out, people think he's my kid (laughing).