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Freya's Birth Story - added 15 Sep 01

Nine Months...

You probably don't want to hear about all of the details of Marie's 9+ months of pregnancy. We'll just include some highlights... For pictures of Marie and her growing belly see our site.

Marie's pregnancy was fairly normal in most ways. The first four months of pregnancy were a bit rough, with super exhaustion being the primary factor. We were able, however, to spend one romantic week together in Zihuatenejo, Mexico during month 5, and one week up at Fallen Leaf Lake (by Lake Tahoe) in July. The remainder of Marie's pregnancy was the "preparation" phase. We set up Freya's room, took birthing classes, infant CPR classes, and baby care classes.

...and one Day

Freya was due to be born around September 4, 2001. Marie was hoping that she'd come a little early so she wouldn't be too big (to fit down the birth canal). But all of Marie's mom's children and her sisters' children were late so we didn't have our hopes too high.

We tried several of the techniques to encourage labor, including accupressure to Marie's "spleen 6" point above her ankles. On Sunday, September 9, we decided to go to the local mall and do some early holiday shopping. (Who knows what holiday shopping will be like with a baby.) We did some other errands, worked on more touches to Freya's room and watched a movie on T.V. Seemed like Freya wouldn't be coming any time soon.


The beginning of Labor

Just after midnight on September 10 Marie felt the first of her "labor pains". Within 3 hours the contractions were getting pretty strong and coming between 2 and 6 minutes apart. In class we had learned that they should start far apart and start getting closer together gradually. By 6am we felt that they were close enough to wake Marie's OBGYN, Dr. Lilia Lizano. Dr. Lizano suggested we go to the hospital to get checked out.

At 5am Monday morning - after packing the car. Timing contractions.
(Click the image for a larger picture.)

Not Yet!

Rush hour traffic in our area of the Bay starts around 5am and lightens up around 9:30am. It was kind of fun driving in the carpool lane illegally (3 people are required for a carpool on this part of I-80). I was hoping for a police escort. But we made it to the hospital in 30 minutes - fantastic for rush hour!

When we got to the labor & delivery floor, Marie got examined but her cervix was only dialated to 1 cm (10 cm is needed for birth). We were told to walk around for one hour and then come back. After 2 hours, Marie's cervix was still at 1 cm so we were sent home (after Marie received a sedative to help her sleep during the contractions).

However, Marie's uterus decided to kick into high gear at that point. We spent the next 3 hours home trying to sleep. Marie tried sitting in a warm tub to help ease the contractions, but when they started coming every 1-2 minutes apart, with some of them starting 15 seconds after the previous one ended, the panic and anxiety kicked up a notch.

It took some effort to get Marie dressed and in the car in between contractions. We called Dr. Lizano's office and they said to stop by at the office before going to the hospital. Marie didn't want that delay but Dr. Lizano wanted to find out if we could actually make it to the hospital in time! I did read about delivering Marie's baby at home in case of emergency but would have been much more happy to have the baby at the OBGYN's office.

Luckily Marie was 5 cm dialated, giving us enough time to get to the hospital. When Dr. Lizano suggested I drive quickly, we dashed off. By this time Marie's contractions were super strong. I used all of my coaching skills to get Marie to use her breathing techniques to keep from hyperventalating. We made it to the hospital as Marie's breathing turned into low gutteral moans. I kept my calm and ran in to get her a wheelchair.

You all know Marie, right? Of course she didn't wait in the car. She got out and was leaning against the door during a contraction when I got back with the wheelchair. A half-dozen people were staring in shock at her, not realizing that everything was ok. :-)

An attendant wheeled Marie up to the Labor floor as I parked the car. At this point Marie's contractions were so intense that she was pretty much in her own world. Luckily she was able to let the nurses on the labor floor know who she was, and she was checked in. I left our 2 suitcases, 5 pillows, 2 bags, camera, camcorder, baby bag, and more in the car as I ran back to find Marie.

Here comes Freya!

We had been planning on using a doula (a professional labor coach) to help us during labor. Ideally we would have had Joan with us at home during the night and morning, but we didn't think that we'd be sent home that first time. We called Joan (Bryant) on the way to the hospital the second time and she met us as Marie was admitted into a delivery room.

Joan was great. She brought up a birthing ball (one of those large exercise balls) for Marie to sit on and roll back-and-forth during the contractions. She helped Marie breathe and make it until she could get an epidural. At this point I wasn't very helpful with Marie's breathing. Joan helped Marie keep things together.

All along Marie's pregnancy she wasn't planning on using anesthesia or analgesia during labor and delivery.

Joan helping Marie through contractions.
But after those 15 or so hours of labor, due to exhaustion and the intensity of the pain, she decided to go with an epidural. Dr. Lizano called the hospital in advance to make sure that Marie could get one as soon as possible after checking in.

It did take another 45 minutes or so until the anesthesiologist (Dr. Glenn Alper) was able to come by, but within minutes he had administred the epidural. Within 10 minutes or so Marie was feeling better. In about 20-30 minutes, Marie was relaxed and could take in everything that had happened in the last 1/2 day.

We were then able to catch our breath for several hours before Marie could start pushing. Joan and I helped massage Marie's legs, back & neck to keep her comfortable. I had time to grab some of our bags from the car.

Our delivery nurses, Beverly (in the back), Loretta, Dr. Alper, Ron & Marie - after the epidural kicked in.

Pushing time

Dr. Lizano had been on call for the past 24+ hours so Dr. Kurt R. Wharton helped marie during delivery. We hadn't met Dr. Wharton before but he was very friendly and kind and did a great job coaching Marie during the last 1.5 hours of labor.

For the pushing stage, Joan and I alternated holding one of Marie's legs and a nurse held the other. I had watched several birth films prior to this and inherited my dad's queasiness, but luckily I got over it enough to be there for the birth of Freya. Her head had been squeezed to mold itself through the birth canal and she looked a little like a cone-head.

The whole birthing team with Marie & Freya: Joan, Loretta, Beverly, Dr. Wharton & Ron
Immediately I was asked if I'd like to cut the umbilical cord. After three cuts, I did. (It's very tough - like cutting a small garden hose.) A little bit of meconium came out with Freya (baby poop) so she was taken to the side to have her mouth suctioned. Marie asked that I go watch over Freya as the nurses cleaned her up and did the APGAR tests (7 at 1 min, 9 at 5 min). Freya's color wasn't quite pink after 5 minutes so she didn't get a 10 score.
Marie had originally requested no episiotomy in her birth plan. The doctor used mineral oil and massage of the perenium, but was unable to prevent quite a bit of tearing. Freya was just a tad too big for Marie's birth canal. It looked to me like everything went well, but the doctor spent quite a bit of time stitching Marie up. About two hours later Marie, Freya and I moved to room 3525 to start recovery.

Dr. Lizano at Marie's post-birth checkup

Rooming in...

Alta Bates Hospital, in Berkeley, CA, where Freya was born, is really super. They encourage all forms of labor, from natural, to medicated, and allow up to 4 guests in the room during delivery. For recovery, Marie, Freya and I shared a room for 2 days. Freya never left our side and for our walks around the delivery floor, Freya came along in her wheeled bassinet. The nursing staff was great, with each nurse showing Marie and me how to care for Marie and the baby.

We were a little concerned about breast feeding since it would take 3-4 days for Marie's milk to come in and Freya didn't seem to be latching on well or feeding much on the collostrum (pre-milk). Plus Marie's had to deal with the blistering and bleeding that occurred soon after starting breastfeeding. The hospital lactaion consultant helped with good advice and Marie's sister, Claire, stopped by once we got home to help with some more practical advice.

Ron & Freya catching some zzz's in our recovery room at Alta Bates Hospital.

After 2 days recovering, we gathered up all of our things (95% of which we didn't use), and headed home.

Days 3-5

We're now winding down day five. Marie's milk came in during Day 4 and Freya is doing great! She's drinking her fill, which gets her quite groggy. She's pooping and peeing in amounts according to the guidelines and the little bit of jaundice she had on Day 3 is completely gone.

We visited her pediatrician, Dr. Elizabeth Salsburg of Rainbow Pediatrics, Pinole (fantastic child-side manner), and most of our worries were taken away.

This morning we gave Freya her first bath. It went surprisingly well.

Marie is still extrememly sore. Sitting is difficult, and Freya's tendancy to not like to latch properly on the breast and continued blistering is making breast feeding a challenge. It's currently a two-person event. ("Hold that arm, and the other one. Open... Open... Open... Open...Nope. Open.. Open... Open...Got it.")

Removing Freya's diaper just before her first bath at home.

Sleep during the first 2 nights was fairly elusive for Marie. Marie's mom, Chula, slept over the past 2 nights so Ron and Chula shared co-feeding responsibilities. Now that Marie's milk has come in, Freya's able to get more satisfied and sleep longer (a full 90 minutes!). So we'll see how the evenings go from now on.

Freya's also having more awake & aware time. I'm racking my brains for new songs to sing to her, and we're also starting Freya's education by talking about things in our world that begin with the letters from the alphabet. We're on "f" right now. Freya's doing well, but she can't write yet so I can't test her comprehension.

Probably in the next week or two we'll be up for visits if anyone wants to come out. (Please call first!)


Thanks for your interest in reading this whole page! We'll update Freya's section of the web from time to time.

Take care!

Love, Marie, Ron & Freya




Good night!