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Author: January Harshe

Ordinary is Amazing, Even in Motherhood

Ordinary is Amazing, Even in Motherhood

january harshe peaceMotherhood is beautiful, worth it, amazing, the most joy you’ll ever know, and the most important work you’ll ever do. Isn’t that cliche? Yet it’s 100% true.

It’s also hard. Really fucking hard.

Some days you nail it. Meet all your expectations. Even the hardest ones. Perfect non-GMO all organic meals served in BPA-free bento boxes, activities with enough outside time and everything child led learning. No media because you care about your kids brains, everyone naps at the same time, and you get your house cleaned like rainbows blessed your tile with sparkly rainbow glitter. Dinner is served while you wear AND breastfeed the baby, and you all eat as a family laughing and bonding over the days adventures. No hard liquor needed to survive the witching hours and bedtime goes without a hitch. Gosh you’re doing everything right and have perfect children. Angels, really.

You spend time with your partner and have amazing intimate time. You now have amazing post orgasmic energy, so you make sure the sink is empty, emails answered, and a list ready for tomorrow. Nailed. It.

Can this happen? Yes. Everyday? No. There are too many variables… the first being that you are HUMAN. Team No Sleep is a real thing, not just a fun hashtag, and toddlers can be assholes. Not to mention life is unpredictable.

Do your best, but know this: If today your children are loved, fed, and have a home, they have MORE than they need. If you sit on the couch and nurse your baby while the toddler watches every episode of Daniel the Damn Tiger while eating Frosted Flakes, then your kids are safe, loved, they aren’t hungry, your toddler or preschooler is learning something from that adorable pant-less tiger, and they’re eating vitamin fortified food.

My point is stop beating yourself up for not living up to unrealistic expectations. Stop the mom guilt. You’re already doing more than enough! Let go and enjoy all the little blessings you take for granted and savor each moment you can. They may seem ordinary but they make up what happens to be your life and that is miraculous. The ordinary moments end up being some of the most amazing memories.

gentle adulting, january harshe

Positive Support for Pregnant Mamas with Breech Babies

Positive Support for Pregnant Mamas with Breech Babies

birth without fear, breech birth, breech, frank breech, footling breech, pregnant, birth, childbirthI have written before how a breech baby is another variation of normal. Having a breech presentation does not mean you automatically need to schedule a c-section. Remember, our babies are wise and know just how they need to be for birth. Most of the time, babies will turn, even late in pregnancy and labor!!!  You can read my other post for more thoughts, support and ideas here.

I want to share a few breech birth videos for inspiration. My first baby was breech and everyone I talked to said, “Sure, you can have a vaginal breech birth, but if it goes bad, it will do so fast.” Not very encouraging. I had no where to turn to for POSITIVE support. I did have a c-section after doing everything I could to help baby turn. I had to fight for that opportunity.

So, if you are finding yourself pregnant with a breech baby that is not turning, you have our support and you do have options, one of them being cesarean birth.

As always, consult with your midwife or doctor and remember you can change providers. Assisting in breech deliveries has become a lost art, but there are those who are skilled and experienced in doing so.

The Tree of Life aka the Naked Placenta

The Tree of Life aka the Naked Placenta

I was once banned from posting on the Birth Without Fear Facebook page and personally on Facebook for the placenta picture below. I was also warned that next time, pages and profiles might be deleted. There is nothing stating in any Facebook policies that organs are violating any rules. We all know there are many obscene pictures that do violate policies and are never removed.

A placenta though? And a rad one like this one? Come on! That is the Tree of Life. Photography. Art!

Photograph by Seana Berglund

Is that a “naked” placenta? Is it showing nipple? Oh no, a “graphic” organ picture! I think this might traumatize or offend someone who never got to see their placenta! (Note: sarcasm)

Okay, really though, what IS this placenta? What exactly does it do?

“The placenta has been described as a pancake-shaped organ that attaches to the inside of the uterus and is connected to the fetus by the umbilical cord. The placenta produces pregnancy-related hormones, including chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), estrogen, and progesterone.

The placenta is responsible for working as a trading post between the mother’s and the baby’s blood supply. Small blood vessels carrying the fetal blood run through the placenta, which is full of maternal blood. Nutrients and oxygen from the mother’s blood are transferred to the fetal blood, while waste products are transferred from the fetal blood to the maternal blood, without the two blood supplies mixing.

The placenta is expelled from the uterus in a process called the after-birth.”

Let’s take a look at some more pictures of this amazing organ. One that gave every single person reading this LIFE!

Here is Hillary with her son (and his little feet) still attached to the placenta (seen above) and his cord.

Nurturing…

Here is the placenta print for the above placenta…

A very large placenta for one baby…

A very large placenta for one baby!

Fascinating! Examining the placenta…

“The placenta from my son born 8-19-09  11lbs 13oz, 24.5 inches…19 days past my “due date” The placenta weighed just over 2 lbs!!  It even had a true knot in the cord.  The cord was so thick and healthy that my midwife did not have a tool large enough to clamp it off.   Here the midwife is showing my 10 y/o daughter the different parts of the placenta.  This was my third birth, second home water birth.” -Stacey

“This is from my son Draven’s placenta born January 14, 2012. We had prints as well as capsules & a tincture made from it.” -Amanda

 

Here is a sweet baby boy still attached to his placenta…

After a UBAC (Unassisted Birth After Cesarean)…

Lily’s rad placenta pictures have been removed from Facebook three times!

Taken by Jessica with One Tree Photography

placenta, after birth, postpartum

placenta, after birth, postpartum

Placenta Benefits

“There is also a growing trend of using the placenta to facilitate the woman’s postpartum recovery through ingestion of the placenta, known as placentophagy. The placenta is incredibly nutritious and contains many of the vitamins, minerals and hormones that a mother’s body needs to adequately recover from the pregnancy and birth. Women who take part in this practice feel that they have a faster recovery from the pregnancy and birth, have more energy and increased milk production, and often do not experience any postnatal mood instability such as the “baby blues,” or postpartum depression.”

*Thank you to all the Birth Without Fear Moms who sent in placenta pictures!

Breast is Normal, Fed is Best

Breast is Normal, Fed is Best

breastfeeding, world breastfeeding week, bottle feedingI’m not censoring myself. When my oldest was a year old, a friend told me that my baby and I couldn’t be as bonded as her and her baby because we bottle fed and she breastfed. I wasn’t offended, I was confused. I had a very deep bond with my baby and was madly in love her, so how could she claim that? To this day we have a deep connection.

What pretentious, judgmental bullshit that was. It is absolutely ridiculous when mothers judge each other over breastfeeding and bottle feeding (it goes both ways). I am not talking about educating or sharing information, but flat out arguing, being snobby, gossiping, and being hateful. If a baby is fed and everyone is happy, keep your mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard.

My goodness, ladies, there are bigger problems. Like hungry babies fucking dying. If you are so upset that you need to tear another mother down, get on a damn plane and fly somewhere and nurse those babies. Or feed people in your community because there are starving children right in your neighborhood!

You don’t think women who feed their babies formula know breast is best? No shit. But you know what? You aren’t living their life. You aren’t dealing with their past abuse issues, or postpartum depression, or cracked bleeding nipples, or whatever else led to their choice. A woman wants to cover or not when she nurses, that’s her choice. She wants to nurse her 2 or 3 year old, not your problem.

NEWS FLASH: You don’t have to always share your opinions. Read it again. Wish I realized that in my twenties.

So, let me tell you about these two pictures… Both are same mom, same baby, same day. Both are of a mom who loves her baby with every fiber of her being. Both are of a baby who is loved, fed, sheltered, and adored. Both are of a mom and baby bonding. Both have a baby’s tummy getting full. Both are of a mom doing what she feels best at the given time. More similarities than differences.

Be a nice human and raise kind children. That’s what our babies need!

Raw, Beautiful, Amazing Home Water Birth!

Raw, Beautiful, Amazing Home Water Birth!

This post is about birth and I am sharing it for all my friends who have babies or want to have babies and for their husbands who aren’t sure how to support their wife during pregnancy.

One day I will become a midwife because I want to help moms and dads bring their babies into the world just like I was able to do with Matthew. I want other moms to feel safe, educated, respected, and loved while they bring new life into their arms. In our country, we tend to keep mother’s in the dark, we tend to treat pregnancy like it is a “condition” instead of the natural process of a woman’s body. We don’t educate our mothers about how their body works and we don’t support them enough in their birthing decisions. I fell victim to this many times.

Every one of my six births was different. I was young when I had my first baby, Allison, and her birth was very traumatic for me. I had no idea what to expect or what my body was supposed to do. With my next two babies, I was coerced into major surgery for NO GOOD reason. I felt resentment and contempt for those births because I didn’t listen to my body, didn’t educate myself about what my body was capable of doing and I wasn’t supported by the medical community to birth my babies the way I wanted to.

I educated myself and found a supportive medical doctor for my next two births and was able to birth my babies the way I wanted. The problem was that I had to travel over three hours each way for all my prenatal appointments and the births. The local hospital here doesn’t support women giving birth vaginally after having a c-section, even though the data and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists support the safety. Those two births were both hospital births where the medical providers supported my rights to birth my babies.

When I became pregnant with my last baby, Matthew, I knew right away I didn’t want to travel again to have him. I couldn’t have him in the local hospital without being forced into ANOTHER unnecessary surgery, so my option was to have him at home. I carefully vetted local midwives and found one I knew would support me during my pregnancy and delivery.

No, not all midwives are the same and again, you MUST educate yourself!

Matthew’s arrival was raw, beautiful and amazing. I delivered him in my own home where I felt safe, respected and loved. I had everyone I love with me supporting me and feeding me positive energy. Not one time did I ever doubt my decision because of all the absolute love I was surrounded by. I couldn’t have done this birth without the support of my incredible husband who told me from the beginning of this pregnancy we needed to do a home birth. He was more than 100% on board with delivering our baby at home. My midwife was competent and encouraged me and Matt to bring our baby into the world the way my body was meant to. She provided the knowledge and skill to ensure a safe delivery. All of my children were in the room when Matthew arrived and it warms my heart that they were part of such an incredible miracle that God blessed us with.

The kind of birth I had isn’t for everyone, and I respect that. But the message here is do what is right for you, educate yourself, surround yourself with love and support and your birth can be just as beautiful! Don’t let the medical community dictate your birth. Educate yourself about your body and know that YOU are in charge of how your baby is born!

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth, husbands

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

Submitted by Tara Menza

Photography by Lauren Gross Photography.

A Moment of Clarity – Lucie’s Birth

A Moment of Clarity – Lucie’s Birth

I still had three weeks until my estimated due date but I was ready, I was so ready. However, in spite of the fact that I had been waiting and hoping for labor, it took me a really long time to believe I was actually in it when it finally started. And by a “really long time,” I mean 3 hours, because my entire labor lasted all of 4 hours and 49 minutes.

I went to sleep that Tuesday night feeling some ugly little cramps, which I wrote off to be Braxton-Hicks or even nothing at all. The tail end of pregnancy is rife with so many different twinges, pains, cramps and other physical symptoms that I learned to ignore most of them and write it off as normal third-trimester stuff. But, at five o’clock Wednesday morning, I felt my first real contraction, strong enough to wake me out of a dead sleep- but I didn’t believe it was a contraction at all. I got out of bed, and went into the restroom where I felt a strange pop and felt a little bit of water trickle out. Inside I got really excited hoping that my water had just broken; but it was such a small amount of fluid that I didn’t think it was real. I mean, women have false labor symptoms all of the time, I figured I was no different. So because I didn’t believe I was in labor, I decided to wait awhile before I would say anything to Jon, he was asleep and I didn’t want to wake him up for nothing. But there was no way I could go back to sleep myself after that.

A mere 45 minutes later, I began to believe that the “cramps” I was feeling were actually contractions and decided I needed to tell Jon. We’d been told all along that early labor can last an extremely long time (even days!) so I didn’t think I needed to call the midwife or the doula right away but Jon convinced me otherwise. The midwife sleepily told me to take my time, eat some breakfast and then go ahead and come to the hospital that morning for monitoring. She didn’t seem alarmed or excited and I still wasn’t convinced I was actually in labor so I told Jon to go ahead and go to work as usual and I’d call him later if I needed him. Then, I took my time, got in the bath and shaved my legs; just in case. But by the time I got out of the bath, which wasn’t long, my contractions were intense to the point that I could no longer talk through them. I decided that moving slowly simply wasn’t going to work for me and that Jon was definitely needed. I didn’t let him pack a bag and I didn’t pack one myself, I just knew we needed to leave NOW.

The drive to the hospital took roughly 30 minutes, and we checked in right around 7:30 in the morning. The nurses weren’t really in a hurry to get to me after I had told them that I had felt my first contraction only two and a half hours before I got there. Plus, for some reason, when they hooked me up to the monitors, my contractions were barely registering. So imagine everyone’s surprise, including my own, when they checked my cervix and I had already dilated 5 cm. The nurse said “it looks like you’re going to have a baby today” and my heart basically jumped out of my chest. Jon and I started alerting our families as well as our doula while the nurses started preparing a room in labor and delivery for me.

Right about 8:30 we made the trek to labor and delivery, while I moaned and groaned the entire way there. In that moment, I felt like Frodo trying to get to Mount Doom, it was probably a pretty pathetic sight to see. Every contraction was stronger than the last, they were coming less than 2 minutes apart; I was in pain and completely unabashed about showing it.

I made it to the L&D room and got in the bed so the nurse and midwife could do their stuff but I was even more miserable there. I was squirmy and kept telling Jon that I needed to get up, I needed to move; like he could help me somehow. Finally (I say “finally” like it had taken hours, but it really only took a few minutes), that damn nurse was finished and I could get up. I immediately got on the birthing ball and tried to find some relief. I not-so-graciously let the midwife check my cervix again and in the one hour since my first check, I had dilated 3 more centimeters to an 8 and was fully effaced.I looked at Jon with wide eyes and flatly said “transition.” Transition, we had learned, was the hardest, most intense phase of labor and only three and a half hours since my very first contraction, I was in it. As I tried to wrap my head around this and the fact that my mom as well as my mother in law were likely to miss the entire thing, the nurses told me the tub was ready. All of my sentimental “missing my mommy” thoughts instantly vanished because, in my mind, the tub meant relief. All along I’d been told that the tub was “the midwives epidural” and I wanted IN.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was really concerned with what I’d wear during delivery. Being the modest, self-conscious woman that I am, I had a hard time with the idea of being fully naked in front of everyone. My friends assured me that in the heat of the moment I wouldn’t care; but I knew I’d be different. I have dignity, dammit. However, when I waddled into the bathroom and saw that beautiful birthing tub full of wonderful warm water, I threw my clothes off and hopped in without a second thought. But I digress…

Our doula, midwife, and nurse all tried to help me find a comfortable position in the tub but I was really beginning to struggle. The contractions were coming on like a freight train at that point and I was beginning to question my decision to have this natural, drug-free delivery. I mean, seriously, what sane person would ever do this to herself on purpose?

At approximately 9:00 am, the midwife checked me one last time time and I was fully dilated and ready to push. In that one moment, all of my preparations, all of my yoga, meditation, natural pain management classes, and breathing exercises went straight out the window because I straight up panicked. It felt like my contractions were coming right on top of each other and I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t focus on my breathing. I gave one maybe two feeble attempts at pushing while lying in the tub, but the midwife and I realized quickly that it wasn’t going to work. So they had me, in all of my naked glory, get out of the tub to squat and hover over the floor using Jon’s legs for support. I tried to find peace in that position too but I couldn’t. I stood up, feeling like a feral cat, and started to look at everyone dead in the eye and plead for mercy. I cried like a baby and told them that “a c-section has never looked so good.” I just kept crying and pleading “somebody please help me!” They calmly told me that my baby was almost here and I just needed to focus, breathe and push her out. I had to help myself, no one could do it for me.They were encouraging and calm in my moment of sheer terror, to which I will be forever grateful. My poor sweet husband just stood in the corner behind me not making a sound. I’m pretty sure he was traumatized- and with good reason. Even with all of our preparation (and trust me, no one was as prepared as we were) neither of us could have imagined the scene that took place on that bathroom floor.

I tried to push from the squatting position again, but it really wasn’t working for me so I went back to the bed. The nurse brought out the mirror so that I could see what was going on “down there”. I never thought I’d want to use that mirror because I didn’t think I’d want to see what was happening down there at all, but it turned out to be a great idea. Having that mirror in place, I had a moment of clarity. For some reason, a switch flipped in my head and for the first time I was able to stop focusing on my own pain and panic and started truly focusing on pushing my baby out. I got extremely quiet then and so did everyone else; you probably could have heard a pin drop in the room. The midwife let me guide my own pushing. During each contraction, I’d push about three times and then get really quiet again and wait for the next one. Pushing was such an amazing relief from all of the pain I had been feeling; plus with each push I could see my baby’s head coming further and further out. I focused all of my energy on that little head with all of her black hair and I found my rhythm. I pushed for maybe 20 minutes and then……

At 9:49am, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 Lucie Jane Bryan was born. My baby Lucie. 6 lbs, 11 oz, 17 inches long and absolutely perfect.

newborn, baby

photo 2

Submitted by Landrie Bryan of Still Thinking….

Pressure-Free Home Birth After 2 Weeks of Braxton Hicks Contractions

Pressure-Free Home Birth After 2 Weeks of Braxton Hicks Contractions

My first birth was fast. After three hours of non-timable contractions my water broke. An hour later I arrived at the hospital at 5cm, and an hour after that I was holding my son. He had to be delivered by a wandering pediatrician because no one thought a first time mom could push out her baby in under 15 minutes after less than five hours of labour.

I read a lot of Ina May books after that birth and decided my next birth would be at home. There was no way I was dealing with getting to the hospital when my labour time might be cut in half. I found fantastic midwives that attend a lot of home births in my area.

My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, but full of contractions. I had been put on pelvic rest with my first son to keep from going into labour and needed it again this time. At 23 weeks I was on “as needed” bed rest and full pelvic rest. At 34 weeks we were given the green light but DH (Jonathan) and I waited another three as I wanted to make sure I got my home birth and 37 weeks is required for that.

After two weeks of Braxton Hicks and prodromal labor and being dilated to 3cm my midwife finally swept my membranes at 38w 6d. I had contractions until that afternoon but they stopped. I had a few sporadic ones throughout the day but nothing stuck.

That night (June 22) I woke up at 2:49am with a very painful contraction. I started timing and had a few more. After about 5 that were pretty regular I called the midwife (3:30am). She called the student midwife and they quickly headed ontheir way.

I spent contractions on my birthing ball and in between making the bed and giving Jonathan orders. They got to our place around 4:00 and madly set up. They checked me and I was at 6cm and very thin. They called the other midwife and told her to hurry and continued to set up while I labored on the bed, clutching whatever I could through contractions. Shortly after I started having small urges to push and knew my water was about to break. They got an extra pad under me and two contractions later my water exploded across the room (4:35am). The student managed to dodge it but boy was she surprised!

I enjoyed the feeling of not having the pressure for a little while as the contractions slowed for the pushing stage. The midwife was called again and told to run the red lights. A few contractions later and I was starting to push again(4:40am). The main midwife made it by then and was ready to help instruct Jonathan on how to push on my opening as Levi’s head quickly crowned. I started panting to slow down the process as I knew I would tear if I didn’t.

The worst pain was in my urethra. It felt like someone was shoving their finger up it and I was yelling at them to stop. As soon as the head was free though that pain was gone. Levi got his arm free and tried to swim and claw the rest of the way out. It was 4:46am. It only took 1 contraction to get him out. Levi had a good cry for about 10 minutes and then we got him to nurse. He was a pro!

He weighed 7.13lbs, 21.5″ long!

pregnancy, contractions

pregnancy, birth, childbirth, home birth

Brothers meeting for the first just an hour after birth.

brothers, baby, babies, birth, toddler

Submitted by Barbie R. 

FIND YOUR VILLAGE

FIND YOUR VILLAGE

These are the current open cities for our Find Your Village events (you can click on them for more info). They are all slightly different depending on the city, but they will all be packed with inspiration, love, empowerment, healing, and a ton of solidarity. If we come near you, join us, you won’t regret it! You can also visit the registration site here and past picture galleries here.

Much love,

January

2017

The Birth Story of BeardBaby

The Birth Story of BeardBaby

Today is her first birth day. One full year. A full circle around the sun. To celebrate, I am sharing the day of her birth. I openly admit I wanted it to be just ours for a while. As I spoke at events this past year and had the opportunity to share beardbaby’s birth story, I was also able to process. I’ve been asked to write it out and share it and finally feel ready to do so. Thank you for being so patient with me, and as always I appreciate the love and support.

january harshe pregnant

While going postdates is my norm, it’s never what I want. But once again I found myself 42 1/2 weeks pregnant. I had co-care with midwives and an OB during my pregnancy. I wanted to plan a homebirth but my instincts told me to also have care with an OB. Our instincts are always right.

So I was 42 1/2 weeks pregnant and had another appointment with my OB. We had an open discussion about options and what we were all comfortable with. We checked on the baby and she was doing great! Perfect amount of fluids, placenta looked great, and baby was healthy. I was having contractions so I said I wanted to give it the day and see where it led.

january harshe pregnant

Sure enough I had contractions all day and they progressed in frequency and intensity into the evening, but at midnight everything stalled. Typical for me but no less frustrating! I woke up the next morning, a Thursday, and realized that most of my family, and now including myself, had the flu. 42 1/2 weeks pregnant with the flu. There are no words.

I text some friends and said “You know what? My plan now is to not have her and have a new baby in a house with the flu! We are all going to get better, and I will have this baby on Monday!” They were so sweet and encouraging but we all know that birth does not usually go as we plan.

I woke up Sunday morning 43 weeks pregnant, exhausted, and still not feeling well. I went into a complete panic. I could not get the baby to move. I wiggled my belly, I pushed, tossed, turned, got up, used the bathroom, drank juice, layed back down, and could not feel her. I woke my husband up in my panicked state. He was a little confused and tired himself and mumbled, “Whuuut?” I told him I couldn’t feel the baby move. He reached over and placed his hand on my belly and after a few seconds he said, “I am feeling her move.” I protested, “No you’re not! If I can’t feel her moving you can’t!” So he put his hand on my big belly again and said, “Yep, I feel her moving, can I go back to sleep now?”

Ugh! Sure enough once he said it, I felt her. She had been peacefully resting, getting ready for her huge event. That’s all it was, but to me, the way I felt, I knew it was time. I text my midwives and my OB and impatiently waited to hear back. My OB called me and I told him that she needed to be born that day, of which he of course completely agreed. We decided to meet at his office before going to the hospital.

We got the kids situated with the a sitter and my husband and I drove to meet our OB. I was texting my midwives on the way. I remember telling Brandon, “This is the kind of care that all women deserve. Everyone working together respectfully to ensure healthy mom and baby and a safe birth. It took me six children to get these kinds of options, support, and respect. This should be the norm!”

We arrived at the office, along with a friend and did an ultrasound. Baby looked great. So this is when we started discussing options. It’s an amazing thing to have an open, respectful discussion with an OB. No defensiveness from anyone. We all wanted the same thing. Bless this man, he wanted the decision to be mine, because he knew that was important to me. We discussed induction options, risks to breaking the amniotic sac and a cesarean. He asked if he could check me (I usually decline). I said.,”Yes, but I know that my cervix will be closed.” He checked me and sure enough I was right. He was in disbelief as I was 43 weeks pregnant with my 6th baby. Again, it is my norm.

He did not feel comfortable doing anything to induce me when I was not dilated at all and had previous cesareans. We didn’t want to hurt my body, cause cord prolapse, and put unneeded stress on the baby. I sat there thinking of laboring in a hospital, having yet another very long labor (my shortest was 20 hours and my others 50+ hours). I knew in my heart that this was going to end with a cesarean. I also know because of all my different birth experiences that laboring and having a cesarean was not what I wanted. It’s incredibly difficult emotionally and physically. I was not OK with that. So, after having 3 VBA2C’s, I made the decision to have a cesarean.

We went next door to the hospital and started getting checked in. I’m pretty sure the labor and delivery nurses were a little confused as to why I was walking in on a Sunday morning with my OB, but nonetheless there we were! As all the paperwork was getting done and I got changed, the energy felt very rushed and unpleasant. One of my birth affirmations that stuck with me was *Don’t forget to have a good time*. I came out of the bathroom and got in the bed and said to the nurses in the room, “I know that I’m about to have a c-section, but this is still my baby’s birthday! Let’s smile more, this is something to celebrate!” And it worked. The energy and mood completely changed.

Once I was fully prepped for surgery, I was taken to the OR to get my spinal. As I was sitting there I hit a very vulnerable moment. In natural childbirth it happens in transition. I was in my own transition for my cesarean birth. I was emotional, unsure, and questioning my decision. That’s the moment my OB walked in. “Hey kiddo, how are you?” Which cracks me up because he’s only a few years older than me.

I told him, “I don’t know, I need you to tell me I didn’t fail.”

Bless this man (again), he knew just what to say. “January, you are 43 weeks pregnant. You went 43 weeks, your baby nudged you it was time, and you listened. You did not fail, you did everything just right! Deep breaths.”

“Thank you,” is all I could say through tears.

A nurse overheard us and tried to comfort me by saying, “It’s OK, it’s your decision, and not like anyone is waiting to know.”

My OB said, “Weeellll, actually, a couple hundred thousand people are.” We all chuckled.

Once I was completely numb and Brandon was with me, Beardbaby’s birth began. Our OB took extra time and care with the surgery to ensure a healthy birth. I remember asking him what he was doing during the process and he explained as he went. As they reached our baby girl, (there are a lot of layers!), he and the assisting doctor started to pull her down and out. My other cesareans were over a decade ago so I can’t recall this part clearly with them, but although I was numb, I could still feel movement and sensations. As they started to pull her down, I felt her kicking up high while her body descended through my womb. I felt my baby as she was born. I birthed my baby.

The pediatric team asked repeatedly about meconium. It was a concern of theirs because we were post dates. This baby was born squeaky clean and healthy! My OB set her on my legs for a minute or two. Once they cut her cord, she was taken to the warmer for the pediatric team to make sure she was well. The only thing I would change about this birth is that I did not see her between being born and taken to the warmer; the warmer was not within my eyesight. I lay there hearing her, but the disconnection of not seeing her was hard. I remember thinking that if I did not know so much about birth and postpartum and had not had so many birth experiences this could cause a lot of issues for a new mom. I kept saying, “I need to see my baby, I need to see my baby.” My husband stood behind them, repeatedly asking, “Are you done yet, are you done yet, you been yet?”

What was just a few minutes felt like an eternity. She was brought over to me bundled up like the typical baby burrito. One of the nurses, remembering our requests, came over and unwrapped her, then pulled my gown down and placed the baby skin to skin on my chest. I’m so grateful for this. Having had two very different types of cesarean birth experiences in the past, I know how important these moments and experiences are for bonding, healing, and postpartum health!

She wasn’t interested in nursing yet, so I held her, took her in, cried, and shared those precious first moments with my husband. I started shaking and was trying not to cough because I was still recovering from the flu, so I asked Brandon to take her. He held her close be so I could focus on her as our surgery was finished.

My OB mentioned that there was a lot of scar tissue (maybe the most he’s seen?). He said he could not believe that I have had three VBA2Cs with the amount of scar tissue I had/have. To him, it explained my long labors. My body and babies had to work through all of that. This is how my birth experiences came full circle for me. To have this knowledge is really cool for me. I thought my body just didn’t like to birth. Nope. My body is freaking amazing! My labors were super long and my babies would not drop until close to transition and once they did, pushing was always a very quick for me. It makes sense now. But you know what? I did do it. Three times! What a testament to a woman’s body!

I was asked if I wanted my placenta. I give major props to placentas and have used them in the past, but I am done and done. Once our surgery was finished and all was well, we were taken to our recovery/postpartum room.

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beardbaby cesarean birth story

This part is a bit hazy, which is to be expected. I held her, Brandon held her, lots of skin to skin, people in and out, being checked on, bleeding, being sore, etc. If the baby was away from me for too long, I started shaking. I would take her back and my body would calm down and stabilize. This happened for a few days. Isn’t that incredible? Our bodies, birth, babies…all incredible.take back postpartumThe first few days postpartum after a cesarean are very intense. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of stuff to get through, and it’s really hard taking care of a newborn after you just had major abdominal surgery. I got through it with the help of a good friend and my husband. We also were able to check out early so I could go home and be taken care of there. That way we did not need care for the children and Brandon didn’t have to go back-and-forth. The first night home was very, very hard. But I remember Brandon telling me go to sleep and he would watch over the baby. I woke up later to her asleep in the Rock N’ Play and him asleep on the floor with one arm lifted up resting by her. I fell more in love with him in that moment and made sure to etch the sight into my mind forever.

We were all still recovering from the flu. Brandon was so exhausted and was trying not to complain because he knew I was just as sick and exhausted and I just had surgery. I knew though that he could not take care of me if he was completely worn down. So I hired a postpartum doula for a few nights to come help me so he could sleep. The postpartum doula would hold and watch over the baby while I rested (she was in my room) and bring her to me and help me sit up to nurse. After a few nights of this, Brandon was much better and could be on top of helping me and taking care of our other five children. It was the best decision!

brandon harshe, don't forget dads

I remember discussing the birth with my friend while in recovery. Processing is so natural and healing. I had called our photographer and friend Leilani Rogers to tell her that I had the baby via c-section, so we would not be doing birth photography. She told me she was sorry. It was a natural reaction, but I remember thinking I do not want that to be the reaction every time I tell someone how this baby was born. My friend that was with me said, “This is HER birth story, J, and that’s okay.” She was right! It’s why I announced beardbaby’s birth the way that I did. Her birth was not and never has been a disappointment! It was the right birth for this baby.

LEILANI ROGERS

january harshe

We did get to have newborn photos in the hospital and more as a family 10 days postpartum. You can see more of those HERE. I’m so grateful that I have an opportunity to be a mother to another beautiful, amazing soul. She is definitely special! She’s been smiling since a few days old and has been an absolute joy in our lives.

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beard baby january harshe

It is very hard knowing she’s our last baby, but I am finding peace with it. As this chapter of pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum end for us, new chapters are beginning! Thank you for allowing me to share this amazing event in our lives. You can follow more of our journey and life as a family of eight on my Instagram (@january_harshe). beastfeedwithoutfear

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