When Cumberland resident Tammy Kerr-Gaudette and her husband Jason found out they were expecting their first child, they were overjoyed. And they started thinking right away about what type of birth they wanted.
“We wanted a midwife-led delivery, a natural birth with as little intervention as possible – no continuous fetal monitoring, laboring in a tub, as few people in the room as possible, delayed cord clamping,” said Tammy. “I wanted to have my own birth requests met, with my input, so the birth would go the way I wanted, with the opportunity to make decisions as I went along.”
A patient of midwife Linda Nanni, MS, CNM, of Women’s Care, Tammy and Jason knew they wanted to deliver at Women & Infants Hospital, in the ABC – the Alternative Birthing Center. “I was so glad to have a midwife group affiliated with Women & Infants. It’s a great hospital, and I know so many people who have had wonderful experiences there, with ABC births and with labor and delivery births.”
On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, at approximately 3 a.m., Tammy started to “feel something” about every 15 minutes. She wondered if it could be something gastrointestinal. “I thought that maybe I ate something that didn’t agree with me. But after about an hour, it dawned on me that I was in labor!”
Since she was scheduled for her 40-week prenatal visit that morning, Tammy labored at home for a few hours. By 6:30 a.m., the contractions were three to five minutes apart. “I told Jason I could wait it out for four more hours until my appointment!”
Tammy went in to see midwife Danielle Wiesner, who examined her to find that she was four centimeters dilated and fully effaced – time to go the hospital, now! Danielle called ahead and found that the ABC was available – she had Tammy admitted right away under the care of her colleague, Lisa Pile, CNM.
“They did routine blood pressure monitoring, drew labs, and did 20 minutes of continuous fetal monitoring to be sure that I didn’t risk out of delivering in the ABC. Then they unhooked me from the monitors and let my body do what it knows to do naturally,” said Tammy. “I stayed in the tub laboring for a while – that was absolutely amazing and so helpful in labor. Lisa (the midwife) and my labor nurse made sure we knew they were there and keeping any eye on us, monitoring my vitals and the baby’s heart rate regularly, but they weren’t on top of us the whole time. They let me and my husband go through this alone, which was what we wanted.”
Tammy continued, “When you are going through a natural birth, especially, you need to trust in your body and that everything will be okay. Fear is the worst thing for labor. I read up on everything while I was pregnant – so I knew what to expect. And I kept reminding myself that every contraction was bringing me one step closer to my baby. I didn’t keep looking at the clock, I just took it as it came.”
As Tammy went through “transition” and the time to push got closer, she got out of the tub (with help!). Lisa examined Tammy and found her to be fully dilated, but her bag of water was still intact. “Lisa told me I had a decision – she could break my water or I could birth my baby in the amniotic sac, something that happens in one in 80,000 births. I decided to go for it! But 10 minutes later, the sac burst on its own- maybe next time I’ll be that one.”
“Lisa told me to reach down and touch her head – I felt this massive head of hair and said, ‘Let’s get this baby out!’”. A few pushes later and Julia Grace Gaudette was born, weighing 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 18-1/2 inches long. Perfect, healthy, beautiful.
“It was a very calm, relaxed, wonderful birth. We did skin to skin right away. They delayed the clamping of the cord. It was just what I wanted,” said Tammy. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
“I was able to write my own story. And it was awesome to see it all play out.”