Not Just Another Typical ‘Teen’ Pregnancy and Birth.

by Birth Without Fear on October 11, 2011

Zhandra gave birth to her daughter, without fear, in 2009. She might have been young, but she was fearless and very well supported and respected. A beautiful and inspiring birth! ~Mrs. BWF

Teen pregnancy is one of those “hot topics” nowadays, surrounded by controversy and viewed as “mistakes”, “recklessness” and all kinds of other degrading things. This image is only amplified by reality TV. Well, not all mothers who happen to start their childbearing journey before legal age are juveniles with no sense of responsibility. Just as a baby is a baby, no matter how small- a mother is a mother, no matter how young.

I was 16 years old when my daughter was conceived. I had left high school a year prior, and was married that November. My husband, her father, turned out not to be very good at fulfilling either of those roles. But had I not had a child with him, I think my life would have played out very differently. Upon seeing that “+” sign on that stick… my entire perspective on life, on myself and on my priorities changed. Changed for good.

I had always distrusted doctors, and had a PTSD-type reaction to hospitals. The last time I had been hospitalized, my mother was afraid I was going to end up in the psych ward, because I just could not handle it and I freaked out. I did not even for a remote second consider having my baby in that environment.

I had only been living in the state of Florida for a few months and did not even know if we HAD midwives here. My plan was this: find a midwife, or catch my own baby in my bathtub. End of story. In hindsight, I really don’t think that is what goes through the mind of most pregnant teenagers ;)

Alas, we found the wonderful Baby Love Birth Center and knew right away that was the answer we had been looking for. My mother gifted me a book, and honestly I don’t know if she thought much of the gesture. The book was Spiritual Midwifery. She had read the book only after having her first 3 children in hospitals, and had never really conquered her own fears of birthing. That book is the reason I never had any fears to overcome. I had a clean slate, a young mind that had not yet learned anything about birth. I learned about birth from Ina May’s perspective- and that literally changed my life.

As my pregnancy progressed, my already volatile relationship deteriorated into all out warfare. I was alone. Stuck under the same roof as a now hostile force, with literally no one but my mother close enough to be there for me. My midwife gave me all the support I needed. She was confident about birth, Ina May was confident about birth in her book… so I was confident about birth. I never doubted, I never feared, I just understood what my body was going to do and that the only part I had control over was how I chose to react to it. So I chose to ride with it, not fight against it.

I went past my “due date”, but I had anticipated that anyway. My midwife had me come in for a non-stress test on December 16th, and I am actually really grateful for that. Listening to her little heart beat, and watching the numbers go up as I felt her movements- she became so real to me then. All of it, the pregnancy, my upcoming birth, my baby- it was real. The monitor revealed something interesting- I was having contractions! According to the machine, I had 3 in 20 minutes. A internal exam revealed I was 2cm dilated. I couldn’t feel a thing yet, so I went on home and went about business as usual, unsure whether I would have a baby in a day or in a week.

That night, I woke up at about 4am to use the bathroom and had bloody show. I paid attention to my body and I was in fact having regular contractions, but they were barely noticeable. I called my best friend who lived 3 hours away as she wanted to be there for the birth. I figured it would be better to have a false alarm and have some extra time with her than for her to miss it. After I got off the phone, I went back to sleep. I laughed at myself a little bit, thinking how could I sleep if I was in labor? But I could not keep my eyes open, so back to sleep went. I continued to sleep until the contractions were strong enough to wake me up. It was approximately 7.30am, the sun was up, but the day was still very new.

I drew myself a bath and tried once to time my contractions- and realized that engaging my brain was distracting me from the work I was doing physically, and it made me uncomfortable. So I stopped thinking. I surrendered and kept my mind quiet as my uterus and my baby did their respective jobs. That little tiny bathtub was not exactly comfortable for all 176 lbs. of mama that I was, and the best position I could find was laying on my side.

As the intensity of the contractions picked up, I decided to call my midwife and let her know we may be coming in to the birth center soon. I also called my mother, and then finally called my baby’s father. He was asleep in the next room- I had not made a peep, so he had no idea I was in labor. I didn’t really want to have a contraction outside of the tub, so I just called him from in the water. At this point I still was not in any “pain”… the sensations were extremely intense, but not painful, not negative. It was like riding waves of intense energy and I was blown away at my own strength- this was my own body, after all. That power- was me.

Once everyone had themselves and their things together (her father, my mother and my best friend), I climbed out of the tub, donned a nightgown and we went out to the car. I almost panicked when I had to some how sit on the seat of the car- I could not physically sit. I did not realize at the time what that meant, how close to birth I really was. I reclined the seat as far back as it would go and managed to get myself in there. That hurt. Nothing thus far had hurt, but trying to sit in the car just felt so unnatural, so confined.

Then my attention turned to the morning sun, and I looked straight into it. I do not know where the inspiration to do that came from, but I was immediately bathed in the most soothing, warm comforting energy. I felt like the spirit of Sala was giving me a great big hug and taking my pain away. So I spent the entire car ride connecting with the solar rays. I was still quiet- the other occupants of the car could tell when the contractions came by the way my body moved and the way I breathed, but there was still none of the yelling and screaming generally associated with labor. Toward the end, I did bite down on a towel with the contractions. They still did not really “hurt”, but biting down just felt good, like I was channeling any extra energy my abdomen could not yet tolerate into that towel.

When we arrived at Baby Love, the birthing tub had already been filled for me. Those tubs- well, I would almost have a baby every day to be able to use those tubs. They are fabulous. My birthing suite had an underwater theme, complete with a wall mural and a beautiful tile backsplash- so the mer-folk took over protecting me once I was out of the sun’s rays.

At this point, I did not want anyone to touch me or talk to me. The contractions were very intense, but if I was undisturbed in my zone, they still did not hurt. Sam checked my dilation with the utmost sensitivity and respect and said to me, “No wonder you don’t want to be touched, you’re fully dilated. Just let me know when you feel like pushing”. That made me very happy- not even that I was so close to birthing, but that Sam was so kind and respectful. I could not imagine having someone TELL me to push when I was in that space…someone probably would’ve lost an eye.

I got into the tub, but I didn’t feel like pushing just yet. With a little help, I got into a comfortable position leaning on one side of the tub, closed my eyes and just focused. I believe I still had a biting towel. Biting felt good. After spending some time in the tub, I started to feel like pushing. Shortly thereafter, I encountered the only part of the process that really did genuinely hurt, and badly. I had prepared myself for anything from my ribcage down to my labia hurting- but this pain was unexpected. It was in my backside. I felt like my hole was going to rip open. I believe I yelled something that included expletives. My mother and the birth assistant both worked to talk me down and back into my calm space, and soon the pain passed and I could again focus on the job at hand.

I started to push. At first with a little uncertainty. My membranes ruptured right as I started pushing, though I barely noticed. The birth assistant seemed a little unsure as to how close I was, because of the way I was breathing through my contractions. Only the peak of them was obvious to those around me, so they seemed short. I felt my daughter’s head descending, and it felt amazing! I could feel every sensation as she passed each part of me internally. It wasn’t painful, it felt awesome! I cannot even describe that feeling. I loved it. I pushed her head out easily with no pain in my perineum (I thank the water for that).

Then my brain, which had been shut off hours prior, kicked into overdrive. I had a million thoughts all at once- all based around the logistics of there being a tiny head protruding from my vagina, and where that head was in relation to the bottom of the tub. I exclaimed “Her head’s out! WHAT DO I DO NOW?!’. In hindsight, I find that hilarious. I was so quiet through my labor, and when something finally came out my mouth- it was that! My midwife calmly told me to just keep doing what I was doing and, sure enough, in 2 more pushes my baby girl was out.

pregnancy and birth

She was just amazing. She still is. I held her while her cord finished up pulsing, and I was just in love. In awe of her, of how beautiful labor was, of how good pushing felt. Of the whole thing. Her father was invited into the room to cut the cord once it had done its job. The chronology of the rest of the morning is a little fuzzy to me. I guess I can thank post-partum hormones for that. The placenta came not long after, and I remember being surprised how large it felt. I had thought that after pushing an almost 8 lb. baby out, that a 1 lb. placenta would glide right on out.

I got out of the tub and onto the bed, and I remember Sam being a little unhappy with how much I was bleeding. Either her or the assistant (I honestly cannot recall) gave me a small cup with herbs and honey in it for the bleeding, and I guess that took care of it because it wasn’t mentioned again. I nursed her in that bed, then we rested. The whole thing was just amazing.
She was born at 11.23am, 7lbs, 14oz and 19″ long.

birth

I was so inspired by the whole experience that not only would I love to have more children, but I am looking into a career in midwifery. I am so inspired by birth. It is an amazing process, and I am grateful I got to experience it the way nature intended.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Audriana LoBue October 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

Very beautiful birth story.I gave birth as well as a young mother and well it definitely is a challenge but we overcame it.

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Audriana LoBue October 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

Very Beautiful Birth Story!! It’s worth having a natural birth no matter how old you are but what’s even more important is that you became a mother at a young age and didn’t run away from your respoinsbility

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Sharalyn October 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

Beautiful!

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Brittany October 11, 2011 at 10:36 am

There are NO words! How incredible and even more so b/c of the young age of the mother. If only everyone was able to have a clean slate when they’re going to birth. Congratulations, on your beautiful birth, mama!

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Mandy October 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

Sounds like a future midwife to me! Beautiful story. xo

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Elisabeth October 11, 2011 at 11:06 am

What a wonderful story! You are so brave to be so young and just go with the flow so well. Though I think when I was a teenager I was better at going with the flow than I am now at 30, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Good for you and your little girl, congrats, and thanks for sharing your awesome inspiring story.

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Amy J. October 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

People thought I was crazy for saying it felt good to push, with my first baby, but it did. I can’t say that for the other two but maybe that is because they were 6-12 oz. bigger??? Anyhow, the contractions were felt easier with the last two, which is good since that is the longest part.
Thank you for sharing.

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Amy N October 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Oh my gosh! What a beautiful birth story! I am sitting at my desk crying over this story. I am at a loss for words. All I that comes to mind is oh my gosh! Amazing!

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alex October 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Beautiful story. I, too, can relate to pushing actually feeling good. It was amazing to finally feel like I was actively participating in what my body was doing rather than just riding through it. Thank you so much for sharing.

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Dee Johnson October 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Awesome!

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Andrea Barbosa October 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm

That was such an amazing birth story to read! I am so glad to hear that your first birth was pretty much perfect, and even more excited that it happened right in my own hometown, and at an awesome birth center, Baby Love! We visit there monthly :)

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mik October 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Way to make me cry my eyes out on my night off.. I love you Mrs. BWF.
You rock mama! :) chase your dream! Become our generations Ina!

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Kathryn October 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

What an amazing birth story! All women should be so lucky…..

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jodi October 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Wow-what an incredible birth story!! I was 34 when i gave birth to my little girl but I felt as though I was reliving it through your story! I slept through my labor, couldn’t sit in the car and arrived at 9 cm :) My little one is now 10 months old and after reading this, I’m thinking I may be ready for another. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful birth with us!

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katie October 12, 2011 at 5:34 am

I was 17 when I gave birth to my oldest daughter, at home – also with the guidance of my mother, Ina and my midwife <3 Always so lovely to know that I was not alone. beautifully written :)

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Kelly M October 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

What a wonderful, positive birth story! Just what I needed to read so close to my ‘due date’ You will make a wonderful midwife! Xxx

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MEB October 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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Allison October 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I’m 17 now but I was 15 when I found out I was pregnant and 16 when I had my son. I, too, had planned a natural birth and planned on breastfeeding. If I hadn’t had my son my life would be totally different. I am very lucky to have a supportive boyfriend who is also a great father to his son. Being young hasn’t kept me from being a great mother. I graduated from high school a year early and I am now in college planning to become a midwife! I love being a mother. My age has nothing to do with it! :)

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Dani October 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

I too had a birth in 2009 (when I was just a few weeks short of my 17th birthday) at home in the water with a wonderful midwife. I can relate very closely to what you said about either you were finding a midwife or catching your baby yourself! I never considered giving birth in a hospital and am so grateful I did not after a few of other young mothers I am close to have shared horrifying stories of how they were treated because of their age. So glad to hear that you too are holding up the standard of mothering and birthing has nothing to do with age. way to go mama!

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Zhandra November 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Oh I completely know what you mean about the stories of “peers”! Through Facebook, I got back in touch with some friends from high school in Arizona who had also had children… and their stories were just terrible. One whose OB literally pulled her placenta out (forget “gentle” cord traction, he pulled HARD) and she hemorrhaged severely. Another whose baby had a very low grade fever for all of 3 hours, and the doctor wanted to do a spinal tap on the newborn- and called in children’s services when she refused. I was absolutely shocked. Anyhoo, congratulations on your birthing experience :) It is truly life-changing.

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Daja October 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm

What a lovely story!!!

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Rebekah October 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Beautiful birth story! I am also a “young mom” but had a negative birthing experience with my first at 17, at 19 I had a VBAC still with intervention but at least I was able to push on my own. Now I am trying to inform myself about a completely natural delivery without intervention. I am 20, due to have my third child in June :)

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Aubrey January 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Beautiful birth story! You’ll make a lovely midwife :)

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Patti January 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Beautiful story! Wish all the teen moms I used to tutor had the same experience and support. And I must agree, pushing is amazing! I stop feeling the contractions at that point and my body just takes over. I have had hospital births, but am really good at tuning out all the instructions when it comes to the pushing. At baby number 5, I think I got this figured out now ;)

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Emily Heizer Photography January 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Wonderful, beautiful story! I could feel and see the suns rays pouring over you right along with you as you told the story! I loved this!

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Kiersten May 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm

What a beautiful birth story!! I wish that I knew that a birth like this was possible when I had my first at 18 years old. Thankfully after that traumatic hospital birth I was able to have 2 Birth Center water births! I hope that teen moms everywhere see this and are inspired!!

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Chasity Boatman May 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Beautiful and inspiring birth

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Elyse June 23, 2012 at 5:36 am

So beautiful! This story gave me goosebumps! it reminded me soo much of my homebirth with my now 3year old son when I was just 20 :)

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Nicole July 4, 2012 at 2:33 am

I am in awe and admiration of your strength and faith. A truly amazing and inspiring story!!

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Zhandra July 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm
Jen June 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm

PRECIOUS! Love to see that motherhood has come so beautifully and naturally to you, regardless of age. Inspiring.

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Lynn Houston August 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I too was a teen mom at 15. I was not the norm! I educated myself about everything to do with birth. I let my body work on its own without pain meds, I didn’t speak a word. I went inside myself getting through one contraction at a time. I was only in labor for just over 5 hours and he was born with about 5 pushes in less than 30 minutes of pushing. It was amazing and very empowering. I now have 8 beautiful children and I am a doula working towards becoming a midwife as well.

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Kristie April 13, 2013 at 11:39 am

This was a beautiful story! I’m totally sharing it on my facebook wall.

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cindy April 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm

so cool that you had wise women that new to trust natures process enough leave you to do your thing very cool!!! my best birth was me alone in my room no distractions no need to leave 2.5 hrs my baby boy slid gently out of me as i positioned my body near the soft ground like a frog on the nest i had made! when i leaned forward to pick him up my huge placenta came out gently no abnormal bleeding we hung out for 30 min i cleaned us up cut the cord went to bed woke put the next morning ready to take care of my 4 other kids! it was awesome how if you don’t interfere with nature how much easier it is to go on with life after birth!! as it should be!!

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Jerusha Welborn June 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Your story is VERY inspiring and beautiful! If you feel the call to midwifery, answer it! It is a calling, not a job or career, but something people are called to do because they have the heart and love for it. I recommend Marie Mongan’s HypnoBirthing and Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth Without Fear as additional reading. I also loved Ina May’s Spiritual Midwifery. ^_^ I’ve had two babies myself at home in the water and loved every moment of it! I’m planning to have more and considering becoming a childbirth educator to help people understand what birth truly is, how it works and what all of their options are so that they can make informed decisions about the birth experience they want to have as opposed to becoming dissatisfied with an experience they didn’t plan for/expect. More power to you and thank you for sharing your gorgeous experience!

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Connie June 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Your story had me in tears of happiness. What an amazing, spiritual journey you had. Congratulations on your sensational experience. You created all of it yourself and that is truly amazing. I have 12 weeks to go and am planning on having a very similar experience to you. Spiritual Midwifery was gifted to me too and it has been such a beautiful book to enjoy through my pregnancy!!
You are amazing and your beautiful daughter is blessed to have you.

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