My birth journey began 4 years ago with the birth of my first daughter…
Evelyn’s Birth (3/23/2008)
My husband and I tried for about 7 months, before we got pregnant with our first. We were ecstatic and definitely planned on a natural birth. I thought we had prepared for the birth, I knew I did not want an epidural, but I did not really have an opinion on inductions, as my mom had been induced with all three of her children and went on to have natural births. I never imagined that my birth would not go as planned. I awoke at 5:00 a.m. on Easter morning 2008 to my water breaking (39w6d). I felt water trickling out and by the time I got to the toilet, I had bloody show and was continuing to leak. Since I was not having contractions, I decided to take my time, took a shower and ate some breakfast and then hubby called the nurse at my OB office. She said we should head to the hospital…and so we did.
We arrived at the hospital around 9:00 a.m. and they determined that my membranes had ruptured and they set me up in a birthing room. They hooked me up to the monitor and I discovered that those back pains I was having were actually contractions. They checked me and I was 1-2 cm. I was so happy when I discovered that the OB that I loved was on call that day! After about an hour of no hard contractions and no cervical change, they started me on Pitocin. I labored and labored on my back all day. I had horrible back labor, and was stuck lying in bed! I refused the epidural every time they asked – I was determined to do it without pain meds.
Around 5:00 p.m. I had progressed to 3 cm. (12 hours after water broke) and my doctor began pressuring me to have a c-section. I fought it as much as I could. I cried and begged for more time. She gave me more time, but at 7:00 she came back and began pushing the cesarean. Again, I cried and begged and she said she would give me one more hour. Well, of course, at 8:00 p.m. I was still only 3 cm. and unfortunately I believed her when she ultimately said that a c-section was necessary for me and the baby. I was crying so hard that I was shaking and they could barely get the spinal in (they did hit a nerve – ouch!). My daughter was born at 9:20 p.m. via cesarean (result of “failure to progress and small pelvis” – ugh!). The c-section was awful, I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open and I didn’t even get to hold my baby. I laid there on the cold, hard table while she and my husband were taken away as they finished up. She wasn’t brought to me for over an hour after I was out because they were concerned about her sugar levels. She weighed 9lbs. 2oz and was perfect…I fell in love, but I hated my birth experience.
After the emotionally horrifying experience that was my c-section, I was more determined than ever to have a natural birth the next time. Well, I didn’t expect “next time” to be so soon…I got pregnant again when my daughter was 8 months old.
(Me with Evelyn shortly after surgery)
Beckett’s Birth (8/17/2009)
This pregnancy, I determined to have a VBAC . My doctor was on board, and I began to read about it and prepare for the birth. I knew that I didn’t want to be induced or have any interventions. At my 36 week appointment, my doctor suddenly told me that she didn’t think that I was a good candidate for a VBAC (small pelvis, big babies, blah-blah-blah). She suggested that I schedule a c-section. I told her I did not want to have another c-section, but a week later I received a call from the hospital with my scheduled c-section date and time. At my 38 week appointment, she shared with me that she would be on vacation for two weeks, and so she would more than likely not be available for my birth. She told me the name of the doctor who would be performing my c-section. I asked her about a VBAC one last time, and she said “The only way that will happen is if you go into labor on your own prior to your scheduled c-section.” I tried many things (castor oil, raspberry leaf tea, sex), but did not go into labor.
The morning of my scheduled c-section arrived and I had come to terms with it. I told myself that I was excited to meet my little boy and that was all that mattered. They quickly told me that the doctor who was supposed to perform my cesarean had been pulled into an emergency one, and so I would just have the surgeon on-call. I had what I though was just a small heat rash (it was the middle of August), but turned out to be a yeast infection. An intern checked my previous incision sight, though, and said everything looked good.
When I was laying on the OR table, however, the doctor determined that because of the yeast infection, they would have to do a (classic) vertical incision (I had already had the spinal and was strapped down to the table, and my husband had not joined me yet). It felt as though, in the same amazing moments that my son was born, my hopes for a natural birth died. I would now live with 2 separate incisions on my uterus and a highly unlikely chance of natural birth. The c-section was worse this time, I had a panic attack during it and they cut my son’s leg during the surgery. Again, I was all alone while they closed me up, but at least my son was brought to me sooner. Beckett was born at 39 weeks weighing 8lbs 8 oz. and was wonderfully amazing…but, I grieved for months, the loss of my natural birth dreams. And no matter how many times I heard “All that matters is a healthy baby” or “Cesarean is NOT a failure”…I just couldn’t let it go.
(Meeting Beckett for the first time)
God made a way…
The summer of 2011 I had the AMAZING experience of getting to be at my friend, Amanda’s (breech) homebirth. It was life changing for me…I had never been at ANY birth, but this was so beautiful and empowering. I had just found out that I was expecting again, and in my heart I felt this desire for that same experience. The thing that held me back was that my 2nd cesarean had been a vertical incision, so I knew that my risk of rupture was higher than normal. I really wanted a VBAC so I contacted Dr. Landon at OSU to see if he would take me on, and he told me to request my surgery reports. Around this time (end of August), my husband lost his teaching job due to budget cuts. We subsequently lost our insurance. So it then took about two months before we were finally approved for medicaid. By this time it was the beginning of November and I was not sure what to do. I still really wanted a VBAC and in my heart I really wanted a homebirth. I had prayed and prayed that God would give me a clear answer, but I felt like I wasn’t getting one. My husband and I prayed that God would give us some sign. A couple of weeks later I finally received my surgery reports in the mail and everything changed…it turned out that my incision was only vertical on the outside…on my uterus the incision was low-transverse!! I literally started jumping and screaming for my husband and crying! We both knew that this was the sign from God that we had been waiting for. Shortly after, I was spending some time in God’s word and He led me to Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Do not depend on your own understanding, Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
We decided we would definitely move full speed ahead with a VBAC. I was very much wanting to have a homebirth, but I knew that medicaid would not cover it and with my husband’s unemployment I just didn’t know how we could afford it. Still, I made an appointment with a group of homebirth midwives and met with them at the beginning of December. I loved them, and everything that they had to say about birth, but knew that we definitely could not afford their services. They referred me to a VBAC supportive doctor and I made an appointment with him right away. My son ended up being really sick the day of my appointment so I had to cancel, but I felt like that was somehow supposed to happen and I wasn’t sure why…I knew in my heart that a home birth was my best chance for a successful VBAC, and I did not really want another hospital birth. My parents told me that if I really felt like home birth was the path to take, then we would figure out the money, but I did not want them to worry about it. The week before Christmas my husband (a Pastor) received a call from our Church district saying that they had a delivery for us. It was a jar of money from another church…and it had $1,000 in it! We knew immediately that God was making a way for the home birth. A week later we received a check in the mail from another church for $700. And it was confirmed that God wanted us to do this.
I found an amazing Christian midwife, and began seeing her at 33 weeks. I was taking all kinds of supplements, eating healthy, exercising, reading birthing books, doing everything I could on my end to have a successful HBA2C.
Annabel’s Birth (3/8/2012):
At 40w6d, after 2 weeks of prodromal labor, I awoke at 2:30 a.m. (Tuesday) to my 2 ½ year old son crying. I woke my husband and asked him to put Beckett back to bed, as I felt the need to use the bathroom. I relieved myself and then began to walk back into the bedroom, but then felt leaking and quickly realized that my water broke. I told my husband, put a pad on, texted my midwife and climbed back into bed to try and get some sleep. Contractions started immediately. After an hour of tossing and turning and contractions coming every 6-8 minutes, I realized that I was not going to be able to sleep. The contractions were strong, but manageable. I decided that we should call my parents (my mom was going to be a support person for the birth, and my dad was going to be taking our kids to their house). We got our kids up and gathered their bag and belongings. My husband (Ben) laid our son on the couch, and I sat down with him…suddenly Beckett sat up and looked at me and puked all over me and the couch!!
We got it cleaned up just as my parents came in the door. I said tearful goodbyes to my “big” babies and told them they would be meeting their baby sister soon! The contractions were continuing to come about every 6-8 minutes. We lit candles, turned on worship music and I ate some peanut butter toast. Ben began to set up the birthing pool. My sister (our photographer) arrived around then. The contractions picked up in intensity and after having 8 strong ones in a row, we decided we should call the midwife, who lived over an hour away. Joan (the midwife) arrived around 6:00 a.m. and checked me…and I was 1-2 cm. I was devastated!! I couldn’t believe that after 2 weeks of prodromal labor, and all the primrose, sex & squats, it seemed things were happening exactly the same as my first labor! Joan questioned if my water had really broken, which frustrated me because I KNEW it had! She told me that it could be a while and so I should just rest and eat, as much as possible.
Joan left and my husband and I laid down in bed. I tried to sleep, but was having back labor and it hurt so much worse to lay down. After a couple hours of trying to sleep, we got up and my husband made pancakes for everyone. My mom, sister and I watched the episode of “The Voice” recorded from the night before and I just breathed through each contraction. It was Primary Elections in our State that day and so I told my husband that I would like to go out and vote. We got ready and my mom and sister left separately to run a few errands and said they would be back later. Just before we left the house I had bloody show, so I sent Joan a text updating her. Ben and I voted and while we were there, my midwife left me a message. I called her back and she was again thinking that maybe this was not the real deal. I felt very confused and frustrated as I just knew my body and I knew that this was real, slow going as it may be.
I had an emotional break down at this point and decided then to call my friend, Amanda, who had previously had a homebirth (with Joan) and was working on becoming a Doula, to ask her advice. Amanda encouraged me that I was in labor and she decided to come. Ben and I went to visit our kids for a few minutes, and then when we arrived back home Amanda was there waiting for us. It was about Noon, and she encouraged me to take a walk and do some squatting. At this point, my contractions had slowed way down and I was feeling pretty stressed. I could just hear the words “failure to progress” lurking in the back of my mind. Amanda and I took a walk around our church parking lot (right next to our house), and then we went inside and chatted for a bit. My contractions started to pick back up. Ben and I tried to lay down again, but OUCH! So we sat on the side of the bed and I would rest on him in between contractions. My mom and sister came back and my mom could tell that I was feeling pretty stressed…she suggested a foot massage. I told Ben to try to get some sleep. My mom, my sister and Amanda (I will call them my support team) prepared a hot foot soak for me and gave me a hand and foot massage (with my faithful hot pad on my back!). They took turns praying over me and reading scriptures as we listened to soft worship music. I began to relax and the contractions started getting stronger and it was hard for me to even sit anymore.
Ben and I went for a walk, and I was feeling the need for some privacy, so I told my support team that they should go get something to eat. They left for a while, and finally around 6:00 p.m. I went into active labor – from that point my contractions never slowed again and were under 5 minutes apart. The only way I could now get through the contractions was to have heat and counter pressure applied to my lower back…so my husband had to come running every time a contraction hit! My support team arrived back, and they had brought me a sandwich from Subway. I was actually pretty hungry and was able to keep it down. The next few hours are sort of a blur. I remember trying to get some rest, but again just sat on the side of the bed and would fall asleep on hubby for a few minutes between contractions but then would have to stand and have him apply pressure to my back during them.
Around 11:00 p.m. Amanda suggested I get into the pool, I had wanted to hold off on getting in the pool as long as possible but it looked pretty good at that point, so I agreed. Ben added some hot water and I got in. It felt awesome! Ben got in with me and would rub my back during contractions. The rest of my team began pouring hot water on my back during contractions and it felt wonderful (this would go on for the remainder of my labor, and my poor mom said she had cramps in her hand by the end, lol!). Ben gently reminded me to relax during the rushes and would say “Open mouth, Open Cervix”. After a couple of hours I began to feel pretty nauseous and chilled. Amanda thought maybe I was in transition, but I was not sure. I just didn’t feel like my body was there yet. I labored for a while and my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart and sometimes running into one another. Amanda really thought I was in transition, so Ben called Joan. She arrived at 2:30 a.m. (Wednesday) and asked me to get out of the pool to check me shortly after. Around 3:00 she checked me and I was 4 cm. UGH!! I was sort of disappointed, but tried to remain calm. I began to feel worried about how I was going to keep going without getting sleep. My husband and I spent some time praying, asking God to give us strength, rest and peace. I reminded myself that this was farther than I had even made it in my first labor!
Joan decided to stay, and laid down in my son’s room to get some sleep. I spent some time on the toilet, per Joan’s suggestion, but it was miserable and I gave up after a couple of contractions. We got back into the pool and labored there for a few more hours. Amanda was concerned that baby might be posterior with all of the back labor I was having. I asked Joan about it and she didn’t seem concerned with that, but I was unsure. I had been having a hard time determining baby girl’s exact position in the last couple of weeks as she moved from side to side often, but most of the time her butt was definitely out. Amanda suggested a couple of positions that a Doula friends of hers told her about to help, but they felt awful! (She was actually ROA – which is what I suspected) At 7:00 a.m. Joan checked me again and I was 5 cm. I was progressing, slowly but surely!
My dad called and checked in, and shared that Beckett had been sick a few more times…I was so sad that I couldn’t take care of him, but also so thankful that we had made arrangements for the kids to be with Pappy! Ben and I rested in our room again, both of us sleeping sitting up on the side of the bed for a few minutes between contractions, and then standing to work through them. I spent some more time on the toilet as well. We were both exhausted and I think everyone could see that in our faces. Around 10:00 a.m. Joan came into our room and asked me how I was feeling and if I was wanting to go to the hospital. I was shocked and said “No!”…she then quickly clarified that my support team insinuated to her that I didn’t think I could keep going. I knew that my mom and sister were getting concerned, as was Amanda, and that they were just worried about my lack of sleep. I told Joan that I was not ready to give up, which she was very happy to hear. She checked me again and I was 7 cm!
Amanda had to leave shortly after that to care for her children. I also sent my sister to my parents’ house to rest for a while, because I could tell she was not feeling well (she had a UTI) and was getting overwhelmed with everything. I spent Wednesday afternoon in the pool with Ben, working my way through contractions, listening to worship music and my mom reading scripture to me. We had a lot of friends and family praying for us, and we were praying too! At some point, I felt rejuvenated and had a whole new energy! Ben laid down for a while, and Joan came out and joined my mom and I. Joan and my mom chatted, and really connected, which allowed my mom to relax and feel more at peace. I realized that my frustration with Joan earlier was my own insecurities and that she was just having realistic expectations.
As afternoon turned to evening, the contractions grew in intensity. They were coming every 2 minutes. There was such a peace and calm that had washed over the house and all of us. I sat on the toilet for a while and realized that I was still holding onto a little fear of something going wrong. I came out and spoke it aloud to everyone, and felt such a peace afterwards. Around 8:00 p.m. my sister called my mom to say that Amanda had called her and was concerned and wanted to talk to me. My mom stepped out to call Amanda, and told her that she was not going to let her talk to me. Amanda shared that she had spoken with a doula, who had spoken with another midwife, and that they were suggesting I go to the hospital because it had been too long. My mom promised Amanda that she would ask Joan about it. Joan said that in her opinion there was no reason to transport unless I felt like I needed to. Babies’ heart rate was good, and there was no sign of infection.
Amanda and my brother-in-law had been conversing and were basically freaking out…they were convinced that something serious was wrong, that my uterus may have ruptured and that somebody needed to step in. They got my sister and my dad involved, and then my dad was freaking out as well…and called a friend who is a doctor to get advice – you can imagine what she had to say!! Meanwhile, I was totally at peace in my home. My sister called my mom back to let us know that my dad was on his way over and was not happy (My brother-in-law stayed at my parents with our kids). I had gotten out of the pool, and so I asked Joan to check me again. I was 9 cm.! Woohoo! Amanda was still trying to reach us, so Ben sent her a text telling her that everything was fine, that I was 9 cm and that she needed to stop worrying.
We started talking about my dad coming and the fact that everyone was concerned. Joan suggested that we put a fleece out, like Gideon in the Bible. We decided that if things hadn’t progressed anymore by 2:00 a.m. – 48 hours after my water broke, we would start discussing a plan B. I got back into the pool and my dad arrived in all his Papa Bear glory (so unlike my meek, quiet, level-headed Dad!), my sister had come along with him. My dad was ready to hurt somebody. Joan, Ben and my mom ran interference in the kitchen. Joan shared everything she could from a midwifery perspective about what was going on, her experience and why there was no need to panic. Ben then reminded my dad that he had made him a promise when he asked for my hand in marriage that he would always protect me, and this was no different. Once everybody calmed down, my dad and sister realized how calm and peaceful things really were. My dad came out to the living room and saw me, and immediately said he felt relieved – seeing how at peace I was. Honestly, I am a worrier, and it is ONLY through God’s strength that I was able to remain calm through all of that…I seriously never felt worried or panicked! I honestly believe that is because my husband and father (both Pastors) had anointed our house prior to the birth.
I asked Joan if she could check the baby’s heart rate while my dad was there. So she checked and we found a good strong heartbeat. I then told my dad that he was welcome to stay if it would make him feel better, so he headed down to the basement for a while.
By now it was around midnight (Thursday), and I was feeling a lot of pressure. Joan encouraged me to start trying to push and grunt through my contractions to get baby girl to come down. For the next two hours, I would get on my hands and knees in the pool, bear down and moan in a low tone through my contractions, then I would fall back onto Ben and fall asleep (I was even snoring!) in between, then I would do it all over again when the next rush came. I honestly thought I was sleeping for like 10 minutes between, but everyone assured me that I was actually only sleeping for a minute or two…I felt rested though, God was giving me rest!
At around 2:00 I got out of the pool, used the potty, and then got into my bed. Joan checked me and I was almost complete, I just had a stubborn cervical lip. She had Ben prop pillows behind me, and put the heating pad on my back. Ben and my sister pushed in on my hips (my hips were killing me!) while I pushed and Joan tried to move the lip out of the way – HOLY COW, that hurt! No one even remembered when 2:30 rolled around and we had reached the 48 hour time limit we had set. I pushed for about an hour, and the lip was finally out of the way. I got up and moved to the bathroom…it was on the toilet that my body took over. I pushed once and then my body continued pushing on it’s own, that whole “throwing down” thing was totally happening. I got off the toilet and we decided we should wake my mom up (she had laid down for a bit). I got back into the bed and my mom came in and grabbed the camera, since my sister was in the bed with me. I pushed a couple more times and she was crowning! I said “it burns” and Joan and my mom said “that’s good!”.
Me resting between pushes (and looking pretty rough – hey, it had been 48 hours!)
I felt like I needed to stand up, but as I tried, a contraction hit and I fell back on the bed. As soon as it ended I stood up out of the bed and Ben stood behind me for support. Suddenly I felt a contraction coming on, and I squatted and pushed (apparently my body went completely limp and my husband was holding me up). I felt the “ring of fire” and then I felt her little body slip out of mine. My mom exclaimed “Oh, there she goes!” I heard a cry immediately and heard something hit the floor…I honestly thought it was my baby, but thankfully it was my midwife catching the baby! It happened so fast no one was ready. She was pooping on her way out, and pooped all over the floor!
Suddenly I was sitting on the side of the bed, and my baby was in my arms – seconds after her birth! I just kept saying, “Oh my gosh” and “I did it! – I pushed a baby out of my vagina!”
Annabel Jubilee was born at 4:35 a.m. on 3/8/2012, 50 hours after my water broke, after 36 hours of active labor, weighing 8lbs 15oz and was 21 inches long. She breastfed immediately and mommy and daddy were just so in love! She was perfect and we were exhausted.
My mom and sister were in tears, and I am so thankful and blessed to have had their support and that they got to be a part of the birth. We called my dad into the room, and he got to meet his new granddaughter moments after her birth! I delivered the placenta (I mean it delivered itself) less than 10 minutes after she was born, and after an herbal bath, and a little something to eat, Mommy, Daddy & Annabel were tucked into bed and left to sleep and bond with our new bundle. God was so faithful to bring delivery of Annabel – He was true to His word. She is such a blessing.
Her big sister and brother met her later that day, and we are all so happy with our new family!
It took me a few days to process everything, and I was really angry for a while about how everyone had gotten so freaked out and allowed a source of fear to control them. I felt like some of the “sacredness” of my birth was taken from me, because so many other people got involved. I decided that it wasn’t worth losing friendships over, and that I wasn’t going to let that little “hiccup” overshadow Annabel’s birth. I was proud of myself – I had my HBA2C and it didn’t matter what anyone else had thought along the way! I did grow so close to my midwife, Joan, through the birth. She was amazing! I will say that things will be much different next time!
Update: Happy birthday sweet girl. Here is a video from your birth.