Birth Story – Ava Piper

Ava's 1st photo shoot!


Ava Piper 7/26/2009 Mommy and Ava, 1st night together






Pregnancy –

I am a very organized person so of course about 6 months prior to planning to try to conceive, I met with my doctor (family doc not OB) and asked her what I should be doing to prepare my body and when I should go off the pill in order to conceive the month that I had planned.  Well, I decided to go off the pill in April of 2008 hoping to get pregnant by June in hopes of having an April baby.  One thing I did not expect was that my body did not cooperate immediately; my cycle did not begin until July, thus I did not get pregnant by June.  By June I was beginning to freak out thinking that something was wrong with me.  I took several pregnancy tests thinking that maybe I was already pregnant.  No such luck.  It turns out, my body just takes a little while to adjust from the hormones.  By August I was really frustrated and sad so I bought a puppy, which was not the smartest thing I have ever done because he was not potty trained until recently (December 2010) due to lack of energy and motivation on my part.  I digress; I found a few websites that helped to track my cycle and found some ovulation detectors and pregnancy tests that were quite inexpensive.  I began using the family planning method in order to become pregnant…and it worked!! I believe we conceived on Halloween of 2008! Immediately I was reading books and searching the internet for everything I could find on pregnancy and babies.


I called my doctor and confirmed my pregnancy at 8 weeks.  She referred me to an OB friend of hers and I had another appointment at 10 weeks with the new OB who used an ultrasound to determine the due date.  I was so excited and nervous all at the same time and had certain expectations of my new Doctor.  So when she walked in and said “Hi, my name is …” “Who’s this guy?”  I was a little caught off guard.  My husband was standing near me with his work jacket on.  My first thought was “You idiot, didn’t you read my chart?” Luckily, my husband has a sense of humor and said “Hi, I’m the Cable Guy, I’m here for the show” and laughed it off.  I was a little peeved and decided not to let that ruin what I was expecting to be more exciting than it had been so far.  So I got the ultrasound and the doctor told me my baby was due 7/27/09, I was bummed already because the internet estimated 7/21/09…oh well, I was having a baby!  I forgot to mention my appointment had already been cancelled and rescheduled twice that day which added to my frustration. Meanwhile the doctor was a little energetic and she kept buzzing around the little room we were in telling me to go off my prenatal vitamins that I had been on for over a year without any problems, telling me how to get ahold of her in an emergency, telling me what I could not eat, and all within a very short time. I felt like I should have been taking notes; she was talking so fast and continued to buzz around the room.  She kept saying “Hmm, is there anything else I should tell you?” Like I would know…  So, that experience made me question whether I should seek a new doctor but I kept my appointments for a short time until I heard from a CPS worker friend of mine who told me a few horror stories about this person.  I immediately switched doctors, and thus hospitals.  Unfortunately, I had to see all 5 doctors in the practice because I was a new patient.  I ended up liking two of them but they were hard to schedule with.  I saw them most of the time but the doctor who ended up delivering my sweet little Ava was the doctor I absolutely hated.  In the one and only appointment I had with him I expressed my desire to have a natural birth without drugs and told him my fears of C-sections.  He replied very matter of factly “If you need a C-section, you will have a C-section, and you will just have to deal with it” needless to say I was taken aback by his purposeful statement and lack of consideration for my uneasiness with the whole procedure.  I swear my husband was holding me down in the chair because I felt the urge to fly across the room and strangle him.  So that flashed through my head in the delivery room.  Otherwise, my pregnancy was fairly uneventful which was a good thing.  I was constantly concerned about gaining too much weight and exercising as to prepare for the duration of labor while also hoping that it would assist in my efforts to lose the baby weight after delivery.

Ava’s birth –

My due date fell on a Monday and no baby.  By Thursday I convinced myself that I was in labor even though my Braxton hick’s contractions were not too uncomfortable.  They were less than 5 minutes apart but not extremely painful.  I told myself that maybe I just had a high pain tolerance – yeah right.  So I called the doctor’s office around 4pm (their closing time) and the nurse instructed me to come in. As soon as we got there, the nurse took one look at me and said “You aren’t in labor, you look to comfortable”.  She was right; I was still dilated to 2 and effaced 95%.  I had been effaced 95% for like a month and dilated to two just as long.  Oh, and one of the doctors told me my daughter would be born before 4th of July so I got really excited – she was 6 days late! So much for that prediction.  The fourth of July would have made her 3 weeks early.


Actual labor felt like period cramps to me so I disregarded them.  I thought I was constipated and bloated so I didn’t really think anything of it.  It was a Saturday and I was getting a head-start on my birth announcements. I make my own greeting cards and I thought this would be a great way to announce my daughter’s birth.  I remember talking to my mom during the day too and she mentioned that I should start keeping track of the cramps.  At about 6pm, I decided to go for a walk because the cramps were steady and ranging from 6 to 8 minutes apart.  It was a really nice sunny day and a lot of my neighbors were outside so I stopped to chat with them and casually mentioned I thought I was in labor so I was walking to see if the cramps would continue or go away.  I think I freaked most of them out because I was walking alone but I only went a mile very close to home and surrounded by neighbors that knew me.  I also called my dad to let him know I thought I was in labor during my walk so he wouldn’t leave town as he had planned.  My husband had consequently decided to take a nap just in case and when he noticed I wasn’t home in my normal 20-30 minute walk time frame he started to worry.  I was in the backyard talking with a neighbor that was kind of funny.  We ate dinner and I became increasingly more uncomfortable around 8pm.  I kept going to the bathroom because I thought I had to poop but when I sat down I didn’t go and it hurt to push.  I started pacing around the house, I couldn’t sit, or lie down, or relax at all.  The contractions were pretty steady at 5 minutes apart. 

We left the house around 9:45pm and got checked into the hospital by 10:30pm.  I was told to get to the hospital early so I could get the antibiotics for the Group B strep.  The nurses almost didn’t admit me because I was only dilated to 3 and when they hooked me up to the monitor the nurse told me “if your body doesn’t start showing some harder contractions, we might send you home and you can come back”.  I think something clicked at that point between my brain and my body because she came back 3 minutes later and I was having some very strong contractions.  They started the IV and it took them at least an hour or longer to get the whole process done and over with, they couldn’t find m initially wanted a water birth so this was the next best thing.  I was in there for less than 2 hours and during that time I dilated from 3 to 8! I was so excited but I didn’t want to get out of the Jacuzzi.  I did bump the back of my head against the side of the tub during a contraction. 

As a side note, I was making really crazy comments during my labor.  I noticed a sign in the bathroom about abuse put out by the Women’s Resource Center and I recognized the number first because I am a social worker and had called it several time for referrals.  Well I said “that must be from the Women’s Resource Center, I call that number all the time” and the nurse was standing right outside the bathroom door.  Later, after I had my daughter a CPS worker called me to verify some information in my case notes and I checked the number on the phone and said “oh, it’s just CPS, I’ll call them later” and of course, the nurse was standing in the doorway of my room.  I felt the need to explain myself to the next nurse to prevent a social work referral that was un-needed.

Back to my labor – So I got out of the Jacuzzi and was placed in bed on my back.  The worst position for birthing.  They also tried putting me on my side to push and it just wasn’t working for me.  I thought it was funny that they kept asking me “do you want to try pushing while on your side?”, all I could say was “I don’t know” because I didn’t even know if I could manage to move at that point.  I was in so much pain and I thought for sure the blueberries and cottage cheese I ate earlier was going to come back up.  Yuck.  Luckily the nurse reminded me to breathe and that helped a lot.  The doctor was called and I started pushing shortly after.  I pushed for 2 ½ hours!  When I saw the doctor arrive, of course it was the doctor I hated as I mentioned earlier.  So, in my head, I was telling myself “maybe he’s not the one, maybe it was the other guy” mostly to keep my cool and prevent myself from worrying.  He broke what was left of my water bag and I began the pushing marathon.  It must have been a change of shift at one point during this time because another nurse came in and the one I had in with me told the new nurse “she just needs to learn how to push”.  I was so pissed, I was thinking “wait til I push this baby out and then I’m going to push my foot up you’re a**!”.  Again, I brushed it off.  Then the ring of fire came and it scared me so I backed off on the push and the nurse scolded me and asked why I backed off.  I couldn’t answer her clearly, all I could say was “I don’t know” I wish I would have had someone there to guide me through and tell me that was normal.  So, more pushing and still no baby.  I kept telling myself “just one more push, you can do it” probably because the doctor kept saying it.  So eventually I started telling myself “maybe he meant one more after the last one”.  Eventually my contractions stopped altogether but I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid to have a C-section especially after all that work.  I took a mini break and then pushed with all that I had, after about two of those mini breaks I had my little girl all slimy and beautiful at 4:50am. 

The doctor put her in my arms and I kissed her yucky little forehead.  I was able to hold her for about 2 minutes before they swept her away from me even though I specifically said I wanted them to clean her up while she was laying on me and allow us to have skin to skin contact for as long as possible.  The started cleaning her and weighing her and I remember yelling at my husband to get the video camera and take footage of the whole thing because I was totally out of it.  Apparently I had lost a lot of blood and a lot of fluids.  The staff looked worried and I briefly remember hearing something about my blood pressure being low (it’s always low).  The doctor wasted no time before her reached his gigantic (felt like) arm up into my womb and pulled out the placenta – thanks for allowing my body to work on its own.  And then he gave me a shot before sewing up my tear.  I never was told how big it was or how many stitches but my husband said it was really bad.  He wasn’t going to watch but said that he had a hard time taking his eyes off the whole process.  I was pumped with Pitocin while they were stitching me and encouraged to drink orange juice and water.  It took 2 hours before I was allowed to be transferred to the recovery room.  They told me I was grey and didn’t look well.  Well, they were right I was exhausted and went through trauma.  I could barely sit up, let alone stand up to get into the wheel chair. 

My dad and stepmom had waited all  night in the waiting room even though I told them not to.  They were so excited I think they forgot.  I hardly remember their visit because I was so exhausted.  I had the hospital bed almost completely reclined.  I look like a dying person in the photos.  Everyone was taking turns holding my daughter and all I wanted to do was hold her and snuggle.  I did get to hold her in the delivery room before they transferred me but I hardly remember that.  The nurses continually checked my blood pressure and I actually had to stay an extra day because it was still so low.  On the day they released me it was something like 82 over 54.  I kind of wish they would have told me how low it got earlier just to have a comparison.  I also forgot to use the bathroom after giving birth.  It was noon before I realized that I hadn’t peed since about midnight when I got into the Jacuzzi.  When two nurses helped me stand up I wasn’t prepared for a lot of fluids to fall out of my body.  I made such a mess and I was so embarrassed. 

Ava slept quite a bit on her birthday and screamed all night.  I didn’t sleep at all during the day because I had a lot of visitors and was excited to show off my perfect little angel.  My husband had to go home to care for our pets and he had to work the next day before his time off begun.  So I was left alone in the hospital to care for a screaming baby. I was determined not to allow my newborn to begin the pattern of sleeping with me because I thought behavior patterns would start right away.  I continually checked her diaper, tried to feed her and wrap her snuggly but once I set her back in the bassinet she would scream. It took 3 hours before the nursing staff came in to check to see if we were alright.  I was kind of angry because I thought that they would have come in sooner than that if they were so worried about my blood pressure.  I started using my alarm button more frequently after that.  The nurse suggested that I allow Ava to sleep next to me and it worked.  We snuggled the rest of the night but I still didn’t sleep because the bed was so uncomfortable and I was worried about rolling over on my little girl.  That was the beginning of almost 9 months of co-sleeping (I do not regret, by the way).  The next night I asked the nurse to take Ava for a couple hours so I could sleep and they took her for an hour before bringing her back.  Did they really think I slept during that time? 

Although I consider this a tragic birth event, the outcome is my beautiful baby girl.  I learned a lot about what I will change next time around and I learned that birthing a child is such an intimate event and I really need people around me who I trust to coach me in ways that my husband isn’t prepared for.  He was just as traumatized from witnessing the event.  Next time will be very different.  Ava’s birth will always be special but only because I have her to show for the challenges I faced.  I also have to say that I did not realize how significant the events that occurred in my birth experience were until I started talking to other moms about their birth experiences.  Most of them felt sorry for me when I thought most women endured similar challenges.  I knew childbirth was supposed to be difficult but it shouldn’t be too much to ask to be respected and treated with consideration and thoughtfulness.


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