Dr. Lindsay Mumma’s Birth Story
This interview hits home with me. Not only is her name Lindsay (different spelling but I will forgive her) and we have the same initials, she is also a chiropractor in North Carolina, which is where my mom’s side of the family is from. Destined to meet:) Her story is courageous, and she is adorable. Go Facebook stalk her if you don’t know her. She chronicled her whole journey through pregnancy with excellent photographs (MandasPhotos). You will absolute enjoy yourself!
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I didn’t really have a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions during pregnancy, so when I woke up at 11:30pm on Monday, August 12 (the day after my due date) to a contraction, I figured it was the real deal. I waited in bed, and about 30 minutes later, I had another contraction. I didn’t want to wake my husband, and I had some things I needed to get done if I was going to be having a baby within the next day, so I got out of bed and went downstairs. Since I was having another chiropractor (Molly) cover my office for me while I was on maternity leave, I needed to get things in order for her. I did everything that I could for my office, and contractions stayed about 30 minutes apart. At around 12:30am, I sent Amanda (our birth photographer) a Facebook message asking if she thought I should get in touch with Molly so she could see my patients that day, or if I should hold off. Amanda pointed out that if I did call Molly, Murphy’s Law dictated that I wouldn’t have the baby yet, but if I didn’t, I would have wished that I called her. (This, of course, proved to be true.) I sent Molly a text, and luckily she was awake. We coordinated what she would need to do in the morning, and I tried to finish up a few things so I could go back to sleep. Contractions were getting a little bit closer together (about 23-25 minutes), so I knew I’d need to get some rest.
When I still wasn’t in bed at 2:30, my husband came downstairs, and I excitedly told him about my contractions. I told him I’d be up soon, and to go back to bed. He came down again at 3:30. Somehow I was finding lots of things to do that didn’t involve my going back to bed. I simply was too excited to sleep. Chris decided he needed to get eggs, so he went to the gas station to get some (because no other place would be open at 3:30am). He came back with eggs and a giant straw for my water bottle, which turned out to be the best 25 cents he’d ever spent.
We tried to go back to sleep, but both of us were so excited that we couldn’t. We did probably get some rest from 5-6:30, and then decided to get up. Contractions continued, but were erratic. They got as close as 6 minutes apart, but then would go back up to 20. I was a little frustrated that things weren’t just moving right along, but Brittany, our doula, was very encouraging. She came over and gave me some ideas for getting things moving. We walked outside half-on, half-off the curb to open my pelvis, we did some rebozo work, I bounced on the ball, etc. Contractions remained erratic. She recommended I either get adjusted or get acupuncture. I called my naturopath and she was able to squeeze me in. Chris came with me and Dr. Dishman used all of the induction points (and stimulated them, which is definitely not the most comfortable procedure!) and my contractions got down to between 6-8 minutes apart by the time we left.
By this point my parents had arrived from Ohio. My contractions became erratic again. I was really frustrated, and extremely tired. I found that if I did some squats, I could get contractions going again, but if I rested, contractions slowed. I figured this meant that I should keep squatting and get things moving. Around 7pm, I talked to Brittany and she said that if I had to do things to keep labor going, it was likely prodromal labor, and that rest would be best. Despite being so tired, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep because the contractions were strong enough to wake me (although not very painful). She told me to take a shower, drink a glass of wine, and take a Tylenol PM. I was fine with the first two options, but a little wary of the third. She reassured me, and I sent my dad to buy some Tylenol. (This was no small task – apparently they don’t sell it anymore, but he did end up finding some acetaminophen as a sleep aid.) By 8, I was sleeping.
I woke up around 12:30 to some much more serious contractions. I was able to drift in and out of sleep until about 2:30, when things got a little more serious and I needed to get on hands and knees in order to get through the contractions, which were consistently about 4 minutes apart. I called Brittany, and she told me to call the Birth Center. The midwife on call said to call back when my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart for an hour. I called back an hour later, and we were on our way. I called Amanda and told my parents that we were leaving, but not to come until we talked to them later.
I was really nervous about being in the car and having contractions. At 4am, there isn’t any traffic, so the trip was about 25-30 minutes. During that time, though, I only had 4 contractions. So when we got to the Birth Center, I was a little worried that we’d jumped the gun. Sarah assured me that my contractions had slowed down as a protective mechanism for me. Contractions got more intense, but they had moved back to about 8 minutes apart.
I had originally planned on having no cervical checks, but at my 38 week appointment, we discussed the option of having an initial check to see where things were. I was 3cm dilated, and the baby – which had been LOA or LOT since they began checking positioning, was OP! Brittany got to work to help turn the baby. We used the rebozo and did a lot of hands and knees work. She had a lot of tricks up her sleeve, and we eventually got the baby into a better position. I was able to get through contractions by leaning on Chris and having Brittany squeeze my pelvis. That was how I got through most of my contractions, actually.
We did the first round of antibiotics (I had tested positive for GBS), which was awful. The nurse stuck me 4 times before getting the port into my left elbow. I had to keep my arm straight while the antibiotics were administered. She intended on leaving the port in until my next round, but I told her there was no way I was going to labor with a stiff, straight arm! She said it would probably be just as hard to get the needle in next time, but I didn’t care because I needed my freedom of movement!
The morning was relaxed and easy. I labored with Chris and Brittany’s support, and we all chatted between contractions. Chris read some jokes my friend Bertram had sent for us to enjoy during labor. Midwives and nurses popped in periodically to monitor the baby’s heart rate and check on us. I was growing a little impatient, but trying to enjoy every moment. Chris and I took a walk outside around 11:30am, and after that things seemed to really start into high gear. When we came back in, I had my strongest contractions yet. I used the kinesio ball and rested my chest on it while Brittany squeezed my pelvis, but I didn’t like that position as much as I did standing and leaning on Chris. I think a large part of that was because I liked having him very close to me. I was vocalizing using my low and open tones that we’d learned in our birthing class during every contraction. Every single time, without fail, for my entire labor, Chris vocalized with me, encouraging me to keep my tone as low as possible. I honestly hadn’t thought he had taken our birthing class seriously, because he always made me laugh when we were practicing contractions, but he did everything that he was supposed to do and more. He always had my water handy (with that 25 cent giant straw from the gas station coming in quite handy), he held my hand constantly, he stayed as close to my face as he could get, and was an incredible support physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Sometime in the afternoon, Sarah checked me again and I was only at 5 cm. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t progressed more. A while later, I went to the bathroom and couldn’t come out. I started having a contraction, and I couldn’t get myself to walk through it. The contraction lessened a little, but never fully went away, and I gradually made my way back out into the room with a lot of help from Brittany and Chris. This lasted for about 20 minutes! Sarah came in shortly after and asked how things were going. I told her I felt like that was the most intense 20 minutes of my life, and knew that things were about to get even more serious. She laughed and said I was probably right.
A short time later, I was on hands and knees for a contraction and felt a gush of warm liquid. I said, “There goes my water!” The way Chris tells the story, Brittany made a face at him (from behind me, where I couldn’t see) to let him know that she had no idea what I was talking about and that my water hadn’t broken. I was still in my underwear at the time, and was wearing a pad, though, so no one saw any liquid! After that contraction, I ditched my drawers and continued laboring in just my bathing suit top.
I got into the tub, but didn’t find it as comforting as I thought I would. We did my second round of antibiotics, and the new midwife, Lexa, put the port in this time. She got it into my right forearm (although not without some difficulty). I told her again that I didn’t want to keep it in after the drip was done, and she said that Allison (another midwife) had told her to keep it in so that there wouldn’t be any trouble administering them again later. Luckily, she accidentally pulled the port out when trying to tape it down, so I didn’t have to keep it in, and didn’t need to argue with anyone about the point.
I got out of the tub and moved to the bed, where I was able to rest. I certainly didn’t fall asleep, but Chris lied next to me and held my hand while Brittany kept pressure on my pelvis as I lie on my side. Everyone had ordered Jimmy John’s, since all we’d done was snack all day on some Clif bars and dried mangoes. Amanda rotated into the lineup, helping out while Brittany and Chris got to eat. I wasn’t hungry at the time.
Shortly after lunch, I started shaking really badly. I’d been shaking a little for a while, and they assured me that it was just my body’s reaction to all of the hormones. But while on hands and knees on top of the bed, I began shaking a lot worse, and was in a lot of pain. I started crying after about 10 minutes of being in the same position and just shaking, and I remember the look on Chris’s face when he realized I was. In my mind, I figured I was in transition, which was why everything seemed so awful at the time. I couldn’t figure out why it was lasting so long, though, and I’d looked at Chris for support. I knew he wanted me to not be in pain anymore, and I knew he wanted to tell me so, but I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it at that time. He just looked at me and let me know silently that everything was going to be all right, and soon we’d meet our baby. They brought me some arnica to put under my tongue, which I was a little skeptical of at first, but it did seem to help after the second dose.
I got back in the tub, and tried sitting at the opposite end to see if I would be more comfortable. I found I was too tall to lie in the tub, but too short to sit up without sliding down, so I couldn’t get situated. Allison came and checked me while I was in the tub, and it was extremely painful. I was 8cm dilated. I let everyone know my frustration with not being fully dilated yet. In the back of my mind, I was terrified that my labor would stall and I would end up getting transferred, but I didn’t tell anyone this. I just willed my body to do what it was designed to do without intervention.
Allison asked, “You work out a lot, don’t you?” I told her yes. She replied, “Well, I think we just need to get you moving, then. Your baby’s not used to you relaxing.” So I got out of the tub and started squatting through contractions while holding myself up with a sheet that was draped over the door. Someone mentioned that it was almost time for another round of antibiotics, to which I responded, “There is no way!” Allison said I of course had the right to deny them, which I did. I knew we were getting close, and I couldn’t imagine pushing our baby out while hooked up to an IV. I got on the birthing stool while Chris held me up. The stool was just a little too wide, making me feel like I was slipping through it. We kept altering my position or the props between contractions, trying to get into the best position. I was starting to feel the urge to push. Allison checked me again and said I was almost fully dilated, with the exception of the anterior lip of my cervix. I remember her saying, “You can go ahead and push if you feel like it.” So I did.
I mustered up all of the energy I could and directed it toward my baby and my birth canal. I knew this was the first time that I was able to control things, so I intended to make it count. I pushed as hard as I could and as long as I could each time, and felt the mounting pressure across my pelvic floor. But I knew now that the baby was coming, and all I had to do was push a little while longer. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t nervous; I was determined. After about 45 minutes of pushing, Allison suggested getting onto the bed sideways so that we could get the baby past that anterior part of my cervix, which was likely in the way while I was squatting. I got up in the middle of a contraction to get onto the bed, because that sounded like a great idea to me. Once I was lying down on my left side, I felt like I was in a good position, but I needed to push against something with my legs in order to get as much strength as I could. I’m not sure who, but someone was holding up my right leg, and someone else was essentially letting me kick into them. The nurse brought a giant mirror so I could see what was going on. It was like watching someone else birth a baby. Then, with a push, I saw my baby’s head. It was slimy and covered in matted dark hair. And then it went away when I stopped pushing. What a cruel tease. I had a glimpse of my beautiful baby, but it had vanished. I wanted so badly to hold that baby in my arms. With another push, I saw a little more of the head, but couldn’t push any longer and the head disappeared again. I took a little more time before the next push. I knew I wasn’t about to lose sight of that baby’s head one more time. I didn’t care what it felt like or how long I had to push, I was going to see my baby’s face. I pushed with every ounce of energy I had in me and watched on the mirror as my baby’s head started coming out. I kept pushing, took another breath, and pushed my baby’s head out the rest of the way. A beautiful, squishy, reddish-purple face with a hand beside its cheek was in the mirror, and I felt so much relief physically. It wasn’t until Allison said, “Go ahead and grab your baby!” that I realized the child in the mirror was the one I’d been carrying for over 40 weeks. It was such an inexplicable experience, but I truly felt like I was watching someone else deliver a baby on a TV screen rather than watching myself push in a mirror. I reached down and with one last little push, the rest of my baby came into the world.
In that instant, nothing hurt. Everything felt right, and everything felt good. I pulled the baby up to me, and saw what I had been certain would be there. I exclaimed to no one in particular, “I KNEW it was a boy!” He nuzzled up on my chest and I looked over at Chris, who had been in my face the entire time. I imagine his face was a reflection of my own (and Amanda got a wonderful picture of it): sheer bliss and love. Someone wrapped our precious boy in a cloth while he was wriggling his way to my breast, and we announced to the room that this was Eldon Christopher.
After a few minutes, I delivered the placenta, and Chris clamped the cord once it stopped pulsing. The nurse told me I was beginning to hemorrhage, and asked if they could give me Pitocin. I’d already agreed to third stage labor Pitocin after the cord was clamped, but I appreciated her asking rather than just jabbing me with a needle. It apparently worked because no other intervention was required.
I asked Brittany if I was doing everything right regarding breastfeeding, because he hadn’t seemed to latch on fully. When she responded, “He might be in some pain,” I was mortified that I’d done something to hurt my sweet little boy. She explained that because his hand had been by his face, his neck had likely been in an uncomfortable position. At that point, the fact that I was a chiropractor and could actually do something about this dawned on me, so I laid him on my lap and palpated his neck. It’s hard to objectively find anything awry with a perfect child, but I did find that his neck was stiff on the left side, so I gave him his first gentle adjustment. I put him back on my chest, where he latched on solidly and stayed for quite a while.
I’m not sure when, but my parents and mother in-law came into the room. They’d been waiting in the lobby for hours, apparently, but no one had told me. I’d wanted them to be there so that they could meet Eldon soon after he was born, but hadn’t wanted them to be waiting all day, as I would have felt pressured to get things going faster. Brittany had apparently seen that they had arrived and asked them to wait in the lobby, and told Chris. They decided not to tell me, so I wouldn’t be distracted with the notion that people were waiting on me to bring this baby into the world. I feel bad that they had to wait and sit on the other side of the door while I screamed, but I’m glad they were there to meet him.
Chris took Eldon so that they could weigh and measure him. We all guessed how big we thought he’d be. Guesses were between 8 and 10 pounds. I guessed about 9. They brought the scale back in and we found out that he was 8 pounds, 4 ounces. He was 20 ¼ inches long, had a 14 inch diameter head, and had come into the world at 4:44pm.
While that was happening, Allison got to work stitching me up. My impatience combined with Eldon’s fist beside his face had led to me having a 2nd degree tear that required 9 stitches. I knew it would take me longer to heal and that it was going to be uncomfortable for a while, but knew that I couldn’t have waited any longer to meet this precious child. And with the exception of the antibiotics and stitches, my birth was as beautiful and wonderful as I had imagined (although a bit more painful and a little longer than I had been hoping).
Lindsey Mathews, CEO & Founder
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