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Keri Ottenwalder's Birth Story

I woke up Thursday morning and started getting the boys ready to go to YMCA day camp. While standing in the kitchen making their lunches I had a pretty strong contraction, I had the boys put their hands on my belly to feel how hard it was and told them that I was having a contraction. Brendan said “Do you think today will be the day?” I told him “We will see”. This was about 8:00. I called Ken at work and put him on alert. I told him I was taking the boys to the Y and then going to the grocery store and that I had a feeling that today was the day. When I dropped the boys off I explained that a friend may be picking them up and gave them her name just in case.

I dropped the boys off at 8:30, did the grocery shopping and came home. I started putting away the groceries and then doing the laundry. The contractions were coming but I wasn’t timing them and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. After a while I started writing down every time I would have a contraction. 9:46, 9:50, 9:55, 10:00, 10:04, 10:06. At this time I decided it was time to call Ken and tell him to come home but don’t drive like an idiot. He got here about 25 minutes later. I was having a contraction when he walked in the door. We knew from our midwife appointment the day before that this little one would probably be posterior as she was now laying on my right side.

I called Pat (midwife) at about 11:00 to give her a heads up. She said it sounded like early labor and suggested we go for a walk somewhere air conditioned and have a nice lunch out. This all sounded good until the next two contractions hit. I was thinking there was no way I could handle these in public since every time I had one I was on my knees leaning on the couch or on all fours. We decided to stay home and Ken made me a protein drink I pretended to like.

The contractions were getting stronger and were 4 minutes apart from the time Ken got home. After a couple of hours I would have double contractions. I would have one that would last about 90 seconds, get a 60 second break and have another one that lasted 90 seconds, then get a 3 minute break. During this time I spent a lot of time on my exercise ball and HATED sitting on the toilet. I had a couple of really big contractions that required swear words. Ken asked when we should call Pat I told him not yet, that I would know. This is one of the many times that I really enjoyed being home. I could crawl around on all fours, yell if I wanted to and nobody was there to check me or take my BP. I could really focus on each individual contraction. I just kept telling myself – ‘Just This One’.

I had another really big contraction at 1:15. Ken said he would feel much better if Pat were there, reminding me that when I wanted her here she wouldn’t be here immediately, she is about 30-40 minutes away. I told him that unless I told him differently he could call her at 2:30. We were in a great rhythm with each other and I didn’t want to disturb that. Ken was really great applying counter pressure on my back and hips, he was there for every single contraction. At 2:15 I told Ken to call Pat. He was happy to do so. Pat later told us at this point she was getting anxious and really wanted to be here so she was happy to get his call and Ken sounded so relieved knowing she was on her way. Shortly after Ken called Pat I got into the shower with my ball. I would let the water run over my back during a contraction and on my belly in between. Ken was squatted right in front of me with the shower door open so I could lean on him.

Pat got to the house at 3:00 but we were in the shower and couldn’t hear her. Ken went to check if she was here and she was on the porch, she got in the house at 3:15. I was getting out of the shower. I told her that I was loving the ball and hating the toilet. She then said maybe the toilet is what I needed and I told her I DON’T THINK SO – AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! She found this quite humorous. For a little while she was running back and forth brining in things from her car. Pat watched me have a couple of contraction and said we were doing a great job. She never checked my dialation and told me to listen to my body. She suggested that I sit on the birthing stool I had asked her to bring. I didn’t think it was a good idea because I already knew I hated the toilet. Ken put a towel over it and I sat down, had a contraction and my water broke. Ken said “Your water broke” I promptly responded with “SHUT UP”, I was still trying to focus on the contraction. As soon as that contraction was over Pat told Ken she thought I could get in the tub now. Ken started the water and she asked him to help her get something out of the car. By the time they both got back I had one foot in the still shallow tub. I just knew that once I got in the tub I would feel SO much better!

Let me go back to the water breaking part…. When my water broke the baby did a 180 rotation, I felt this! She changed from being posterior and I felt the whole thing – really weird!

Ok, so I’m in the tub and for the first 10 seconds I felt great. Then I felt her move under my pubic bone and THAT HURT! This scared me because none of us realized I was so close to pushing. I was worried that I still had to go through transition and I was in so much pain. I had another contraction and for the first time I looked at Ken and yelled “IT HURTS!!” Which was followed by “I CAN’T DO THIS!” He said “Yes you can, you are the strongest woman I know, you CAN do this, you HAVE to” I could tell by his voice he was about to start crying, it really bothered him to see me in so much pain. Pat said “Your Baby is Coming” I said “THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!” I’m not exactly sure what I wanted her to do but she knew I was close and just smiled. She said “Keri, reach down and feel your baby.” I reached down and could feel the top of her head, that helped a great deal. Pat reached down to support my perineum and I said “Don’t Touch Me!” I kept my hand there while trying to find a place for myself in the tub. I felt more and more of her head – she never went back in she just kept coming out slowly. Mind you, it still hurt like hell and I was letting everyone know. Then I could feel her ears, I kept telling myself it would be over soon. I could not wait for her whole head to be out because I would get a break. Well, that break never came. I knew Pat was checking for the cord and said there wasn’t one. I pushed again and again and lifted her up to me. As I brought her up I said “It’s a Girl!” Pat checked the time and it was 4:07, She had been there less than an hour and I pushed for about 10 minutes. I put her on my chest and she just laid there breathing shallowly. (When the cord is still attached they don’t have to take a big deep breath because they are still getting oxygen from the cord.) She didn’t cry she just moved her head around a little and made some squeaky noises. I can’t tell you how amazed I was. It took my brain a little while to catch up with what had just happened. I could not believe that she was out and she was a SHE! A little while later I told Pat and Ken that we needed to double check the parts because I was a little pre-occupied at the moment that I announced it. I felt with my hand as she was still on my chest and said “I don’t feel a penis.” Later I found out that the reason pushing hurt so much was because we had a compound presentation, my little angel had her hand on her head so I was delivering her head and her arm at the same time! Delivering in the water was great, no epsiotomy and no tearing.

Kerianne latched on right away and nursed for 1 ½ hours straight. About 20 minutes after she was born the boys got home, it really worked out perfect. They came into the bathroom and I told them they had a sister. They were so very sweet saying she was pretty even though she was still covered in vernix. Pat asked me if I was feeling any contractions and if I was ready to push the placenta out. I told her I wanted it out but didn’t want to push it out! She could tell that the placenta was just barely inside me and had already detached and was ready to come out. At this time we decided to go ahead and cut the cord, it had stopped pulsing at about 10 minutes and it was now 20+ minutes after that. One of the things we had to deal with is that Pat had to draw some blood from the cord so we couldn’t wait too long. I am Rh- and Ken is positive so we had to know the baby’s blood type so we would know if I needed a RhoGam shot. We certainly didn’t want Pat to have to draw from the baby. She was able to get what she needed and I pushed the placenta out. Keep in mind that I am still in the tub. Pat had drained the water so she could see how much I was bleeding and that was another reason she wanted to get the placenta out. I was still holding the baby with a warmed blanket over her. Pat examined the placenta and showed it to the boys. Another great thing about being in the tub was that a lot of the mess went down the drain. Pat and Ken placed the placenta in a large freezer bag and it is now in the deep freeze in the garage waiting to be planted under a tree once we have a chance to get one.

I handed Kerianne to Ken for the first time and got out of the tub and went to my bed. Pat was very busy at this point. Her assistant wasn’t there and I wasn’t sure why, I didn’t bother to ask. It was now after 5:00 and Ken asked if he could start making phone calls. Pat did the newborn exam and weighed Kerianne, she was 8 pounds 8 ounces and 20 ½ inches long. A bigger baby than any of us thought she would be by looking at my pregnant belly. Pat had started steeping herbs on the stove and filled the tub. I got in the herbal bath – that felt so good! After a little while we put the baby in with me and she loved the water, she was in the water for 10 minutes, then we both got out. Pat covered us both in warm towels and helped me to my bed with fresh sheets on it. It was so nice to be in my own bed.

Kerianne is a real barracuda but is nursing great. My milk came in on Saturday which made her a lot happier and helped her sleep better. I am full but have not been engorged. Pat came back on Friday and checked the baby again. She calls every day to check on us and see if we need her or have any questions.

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