Monday, April 21, 2008

Jasper Diego's Birth Story, by Karen Guard

My wife Karen wrote a birth story and sent it in to her pre-natal yoga class as it is customary to read these aloud in class each week after a classmate gives birth. She gave me permission to post it here verbatim. A lot of details about our trouble with the medical establishment are not included in this feel good narrative. That's a story for another time/place. I've asked Karen to monitor the comments here and consider responding, so please feel free to address your responses to her. Without further adieu, here are our events of 4/3 and 4/4, 2008, as told by my wife, the "guest blogger." (more pics in previous posts)

Jasper Diego Guard’s Birth Story
by Karen Guard

It all started at my 39 week doctors appointment. I was anxious to find out how far dilated I was but my doctor had some more surprising news for me. My blood pressure was high and she wanted me to go directly to the hospital to be monitored for pre-eclampsia. I wasn’t really worried – I had a really stressful day at work and I had been running late for my appointment. I was sure once I could relax my blood pressure would go down.

So my husband and I went to St. Mary’s and I was admitted to a labor and delivery room because the regular rooms were all full. They did some tests and although my blood pressure readings were all normal they had found something in my blood work that worried them and they wanted me to spend the night. They started throwing around the word induction and I started to freak out. I was really hoping for an all-natural birth and Pitocin was not part of my ideal plan.

A regular room had opened up so they moved me over. Meanwhile my husband went home to get our bag, just in case. He returned with Chinese takeout and my PJ’s. We ate dinner at 10:30pm and my husband was getting ready to head home when I had one strong contraction and then felt a pop! My water had just broken! (11:15pm)

So back to the labor and delivery room I had been in earlier. The contractions didn’t take their time getting started – they were 2 to 3 minutes a part, right from the start. I was really expecting a gradual increase in the level of pain, so I was really surprised at what I was feeling. Our doula was called and soon I was getting a foot massage to distract me. We worked our way through several positions – practicing “active labor.” I sat in a rocking chair, leaned over the bed, and sat on the birthing ball – all while trying to stay relaxed and open. The breathing we practiced in yoga really helped me.

Next my doula suggested the shower. I have always been really into water and I thought this would feel great. I got in the water and my contractions started to get much stronger. I remember hearing in my Lamaze class that if you change positions the next couple of contractions can get really intense but just wait it out and it will get better. Well I waited and nothing was getting better. I had to get out of the shower. All I wanted to do was lay down in the bed. The contractions were so strong now I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t focus on anything. I wanted to run away from my body. That’s when that all so common phrase came out of my mouth – “I don’t know if I can do this.” My doula suggested we check and see how far dilated I was. The nurse checked and after 5 hours of labor I was 9 1/2cm. Thank god!

After two or three more contractions I felt like I needed to push. I wish I could say that this part went smoothly but 4 hours later I was still pushing. The baby’s head was turned a little funny and the doctor had to reach in and re-position it. Part of the problem was that my contractions had really spaced themselves out – but I was happy because I really felt like I needed to rest in between. All the sudden everyone started scurrying around getting things into place so I knew we were finally near the end. I pushed threw the ring of fire and my Doula told me to reach down and grab my baby but I couldn’t even open my eyes. Next thing I know they are placing my beautiful baby boy on my chest and everything else was forgotten. Jasper Diego Guard was born at 8:18 AM, April 4th. He weighed 6 pounds and was 18.5” long. He is the new love of my life.

I know I had a small baby and short labor but it was still the hardest work I have ever done. I am so glad that I got the natural birth that I wanted – I couldn’t have done it without my doula and my husband.

I just wanted to add that the little guy was coughing a lot last night, so keep your fingers crossed for him not to get sick. And, incase you passed by the Landmark Theatre and saw something called Go Diego Go showing there, let me pre-empt your question. No, we did not name out child after a Nickelodeon cartoon character (or a ditsy Ultimate Fighter for that matter). Pop culture names come and go, and we tried our best to avoid being influenced by trivial concerns. In fact, we almost named him Dexter. (there were loads of inspirations, but a couple obvious ones are Jasper Johns and Deigo Rivera).


  1. Congratulations Karen! I know I told Jason this here at work but I am in awe of your total natural birth and must extend kudos to you. You and Jason have created a beautiful little one and I know that he will bring you both much joy.

  2. I am in agreement with Jason. Karen, you are superwoman. Did you ever once think "Maybe I might want an epidural?" For me I think the scariest part about the pain is not knowing exactly how bad it's going to be.

  3. Karen4:29 PM

    KC - I was 100% sure I would get an epidural until about 6 months into my pregnancy. My yoga class, the documentary "The Business of Being Born" and Ina May Gaskins' book changed my mind. But I am not really that strong. After five hours of painful contractions - if I hadn't been 9.5 centimeters dialated - there is a pretty good chance I would have caved in and gotten the epidural.

  4. I've got another question for Karen. Are you gonna do the mommy and me yoga classes now with little Jasper?

  5. I really want to do mommy and me yoga! It all depends on my work schedule - I will be working from home two days a week and I am hoping one of those days coordinates with the yoga class schedule. Jasper is so obsessed with eating and sleeping right now I don't know if we would make it through a class but hopefully in a couple weeks!


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