Brigit's Birth Story

I found my birth experience one of the greatest things I have ever felt or done. I had people who really cared about me helping me and supporting me. It was the type of birth that I could easily imagine in the matriarchal society that I have dreamed of. I had my doctor, Dr. Margie Schoeller (who took photos), my midwife, Mary Hillery CNM (who helped me focus during pushing), my friend Nanci Adair (who had her son Lucas several weeks before by c-section, my friend Carina Wishman (who I have been friends with for 11 or so years), and my husband Christian. They were all there to support me, and to welcome my lovely daughter, Brigit, into the world. The only reason I gave birth in a hospital was because I was scared about having an asthma attack during labor. Fortunately, the hospital I was in tries to do what you want as best they can.

Brigit Ada Ratliff showed up July 29, 1996, one day after her ultrasound due date. She was 21.5 inches long and 8lbs 10 oz. She also has the most hair I have ever seen on a baby.

During the whole month of July, starting July 8th, I had been having what my doctor calls labor in instalments, with a balloon payment at the end. I had small instalments every day and three big installments.

Once again I started having a lot of contractions on the morning of July 28th, but unlike the other times I had one of the worst asthma attacks I have ever had in my life. When I took my inhaler the contractions stopped dead; we called my doctor and the midwife who was on call that day told me to go to the hospital just to make sure the baby was ok after the attack. At the hospital we were monitored for about 30 minutes and they gave the baby a clean bill of health.

The same night we went out to my grandmother's to celebrate my mother's birthday, whose birthday is the 29th of July just like Brigit's :-). At 7pm or so I started having back labor, which were a lot different than all the other previous contractions I have had. So Christian and I went home at about 8pm and I took a long hot shower. After awhile I hated being in the shower, so I got out and sat in a rocking chair and rocked during the contractions. Christian hung out with me doing work on the computer. A little before midnight things were getting very painful. Christian called my doctor's answering service and we got the midwife who screens the calls before waking up the doctor. She told us to head up to the hospital and she would have someone there check me. Christian also made sure to tell the midwife we needed a rocking chair in our room at the hospital because it was the only way I was able to feel comfortable. We got there and the nurse hooked me up to the monitor and I was having contractions ever 4 minutes and after a bit of that she checked my cervix and I was 4 cm and she didn't say how thin my cervix was. Normally they would have sent me home, but I was in a lot of pain so they admitted me and gave me a shot of Nubain (sp) so I could get some sleep that night and that was at about 3:00am I slept until 5:30am when I got up to go to the bathroom my water broke, but I went back to sleep until 7:30am when I woke up again because the the changing of the nurses. At that time I was 6cm and "paper thin."

Between 7:30am and 8am I was on the rocking chair and we told them I would like to use the hot tub until I was 10cm, so the nurse went to get the hot tub ready. Then around 8am I turned to Christian and said I really feel the need to push could you talk to the nurse about it. Yes, I did say it nicely, you can ask Christian, I didn't ever hit a mean transition stage. The nurse had me move to the bed to to check me and I was 10 cm and ready to push.

If I remember correctly both my doctor and my midwife were there at that time and the midwife got me a birthing chair to use and my doctor went across the hall to check on another patient of hers. Anyhow I was on this birthing chair until her head began to crown. It made pushing very easy so if you have a chance to use a birthing chair try it because it worked great for me. During the time I was on the birthing chair, two of my closest friends, Nanci and Carina (Nanci felt she had to wear a mask because she thought she might have a cold.) had shown up to help me with the labor and help Christian. When the baby's head begin to crown I moved to the bed for the final stage of pushing these friends helped me get my legs up when I felt like pushing and Christian was behind me with a wet wash cloth keeping me cool and making sure I was pushing effectively. I was also lucky both my Doctor and my midwife was there, my midwife watched how the baby's head was doing and how my pushing was going and my Doctor used our camera to take photos of the birth.

I was told later by both Nanci and Christian, though I don't remember it myself, that I put my hands down on Brigit's head, when she was coming out and said, "Come on out little girl. Come on out." We have photos of me doing it so they can't be making it up.

Then at 10:56am Brigit was born. They put her on my chest as soon as she was born and first they asked Christian if he wanted the cut the cord and he said no, so the asked my friend Nanci to do it. I am not even going to bother trying to explain the feeling that you have when you first meet your child, because there are no words for it.

After the placenta was delivered my Doctor held it up and showed us what it looked like and explained all the parts and how it was attached. Both Christian and I found her doing that very informing, because we only had a vague idea what our baby's world had looked like during the last few months.

I had a long but minor tear from my cervix to the opening of my vagina, so it was also lucky my Dr. was there because it wasn't a tear that I midwife could have sewn up. After I was sewn up I breastfed her the first time, it was about an hour after the birth, but she was still wide awake. We really wanted to breastfeed and we tried and tried and saw lactation consultants and people from that La Leache League and it just did not work out she always had problems latching on and no body could figure out what was going wrong. So we are bottle feeding her because I felt I was getting to stressed about breastfeeding and not being a good mother to Brigit because of how stressed I was.

Dr. Margie Schoeller, Tandy and Brigit

Mary Hillery, CNM, Tandy and Brigit

Tandy E. A. Ratliff / / 24 August 1996