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The Long, Beautiful Births of Solla Zakara and Winter Lumina {Natural Birth Story of Twins}

The Long, Beautiful Births of Solla Zakara and Winter Lumina {Natural Birth Story of Twins}

(Editor’s note: This birth story was originally posted on August 5, 2014.)

I can still feel my heart drop. I can still feel how cold my feet went, as if they weren’t even part of my body anymore. I was 20 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound tech was swiping back and forth, from my left to my right, and in almost perfect Pisces form it went head-spine, spine-head. That was the day our family dynamic changed in the most beautiful and chaotic way.

I had been tired when I was pregnant with Z, but this time it felt different. I would lay down with Zandros and read him a book at nap time and fall so deeply asleep that I couldn’t get up if I tried. It felt like I hadn’t slept in days. At 10 weeks I couldn’t button my jeans…”It’s your second pregnancy! That’s what happens! BODY MEMORY!” It didn’t feel like that to me. I felt like I was growing so quickly, the scale told me I was gaining so quickly that I started to second guess what I was eating!

Alex kept telling me “yeah you’re more nauseas because it’s TWINS!” “You’re so tired because it’s TWINS” That was the running joke of those first 20 weeks. When I began cracking eggs with 2 yolks I started freaking out. Over and over, two yolks- I googled it. It said “it means you’re having twins!” “NO TWINS!” I would say. “WHO WOULD WANT TWINS?!? THAT IS INSANE! TWO BABIES? THAT’S SCARY!”

 I started to get bad anxiety about getting the ultrasound. We had the most wonderful home birth with Zandros and I planned on welcome our second child into the world in the same way. I started to think that maybe I shouldn’t get an ultrasound at ALL this time. “Maybe we should just wait and see”, “maybe in a few weeks I’ll be ready”. The anxiety was building and I couldn’t pinpoint why.

When we got to the hospital and were walking into the ultrasound room, the head of maternal fetal medicine, who apparently has a gift for guessing birth weights by looking at the mom’s belly, looked at me and said “how far along are you?” “20 weeks” I said. “Feeling a lot of movement? A lot of arms and legs?” she asked. “YES! This baby is INSANE. It literally NEVER sleeps! How is that even possible?” I asked “Sure it’s just one?” She said coyly. I could feel my face go white.

Before we knew it we were being told that we had AT LEAST 2 babies growing inside of me. I started shaking and freaking out. I knew NOTHING about twin pregnancies, twin births. I felt so confident in my ability to grow one child and so comfortable with my home birth plan and in one second I felt like I was in thrust into a whole different galaxy. I looked at Alex and Z. Alex was whiter than a sheet and had leaned up against the wall for support. I’ve never seen him look so scared. Luckily Zandros was watching a movie on my phone and didn’t hear me screaming. I was scared out of my mind. After being reassured that they both looked amazing, my cervix length was ideal, and that it was a good sign that I had carried Z to term, I was told “let’s shoot for 35 weeks.”

I went home, didn’t sleep, just read and read and read until 5am. I feel empowered and relaxed when I have a plan of action and I needed to know how to carry two babies 40 weeks. How can I grow two full term babies? I want normal sized, healthy, full term babies. Ask and you shall receive.

The rest of the pregnancy was uneventful, aside from me tripping over a rocking horse in the dark, catching myself with my FACE, breaking my nose, biting through my lip and, oh right, landing on my belly. We spent that night in the hospital, with a poor nurse holding a monitor on Winter because she wouldn’t stay still for 4 hours. Other than that I grew and grew and grew and ate as much protein as possible. I started craving and eating meat again for the first time in 7 1/2 years because I couldn’t eat as many calories and grams of protein as I was suppose to be without it. My belly stretched beyond the limits of my poor skin, no amount of coconut oil, belly cream, or shea butter could help me. Luckily my doctors and midwives were on board with my birth plan, which was now to have a completely natural and as hands off as possible birth in the hospital, and as long as the babies and I looked healthy, we were good to go.

Weeks came and went and I fought to stay pregnant. I didn’t want to be induced. I really wanted my babies to decide when they were ready. At my 39 week appointment I was told to get prepared to fight even harder because while the babies still looked great and had plenty of fluid, they don’t like to see twins go much past 40 weeks. My appointment was on Monday, my exact 40 week due date, and I was starting to feel really stressed. At this point my belly was insane. I am not exaggerating at all when I say people gasped and shielded their children’s eyes in the grocery store!

Friday night we were having dinner at my mom’s and she made my favorite meal. I didn’t feel like eating. I was hug, crampy and over it. Alex and my mom kept looking at each other. “Is this it? Are we going to the hospital?” At this point we worried that, because of how short my labor was with Zandros, I might go really quickly and we had a 35 min ride to the hospital. “NO! I’M NEVER GOING INTO LABOR EVER!” I was feeling frustrated and huge and ready to be myself again and not insanely large, and ready to meet these little babies! We went home and crawled into bed. I began to find myself still asleep rocking on my hands and knees. I would slightly wake up, pee for the millionth time, drink another 3 glasses of water because I was so insanely thirsty and crawl back into my huge pile of pillows. Again, I’d wake up rocking back and forth. After a few times I thought woah, I’m contracting (nothing new for me at this point) so I hopped into the shower thinking the shower would calm the contractions and I could go back to sleep. It was about 4 am at this point.

The shower didn’t calm them. Nothing did. I put mascara & jewelry on, thinking if I get ready, earrings and all, there is NO way I’ll go into labor. I continued rocking on my hand and knees, and getting ready until 6am when I woke Alex up. “We gotta go” I told him. Z woke up and asked why we were up so early. I told him the babies were coming! He looked at me completely unimpressed and said “are you kidding me? That’s why you got me up?”. He always knows how to make me laugh. I called my midwife to let her know we were coming in. Called my mom to come stay with Z. Texted everyone I wanted there to let them know things were finally happening.

When I went into labor with Zandros, when labor starting picking up I had the birth tub there, I had my bed, my bathroom, my birth ball all in my house. This time we were in the car and I was contracting every 3 minutes. It was lame. I’ve never wanted to get out of a car so badly in my life. When we finally got there, we were walking in talking about the rooms. I mentioned that I had been promised a birthing tub to labor in and some receptionist chimed in with ” You cant have a water birth room with twins”. Word to the wise: Don’t tell a laboring twin mama she CAN’T have what she wants. I may have not so nicely snapped at her…but I got my water birth room! At this point it was 7am and I was 6cm.

twin natural birth story 1

They wanted to do a quick 10 minutes of fetal monitoring to make sure everything looked good. “Quick” 10 minutes is relative when you’re contracting. I told them I’d sign whatever waivers they needed me to sign but I did NOT want to be hooked up to that machine. We could do heart rate checks with the doppler, and the fetal monitoring every once in a while but not the whole time. They filled the tub for me and I climbed in. The contractions were very intense at the peak but there seemed to be a lot of time in between still. Silence. Peace. Tranquility. I was so scared that they would start to pile one on top of another. With Z it felt totally different. Like he was erupting through the birth canal. This felt more serene. I also made a LOT of noise with Z, humming and rocking and moaning, and this time I could barely bring myself to whisper. “I’m so tired.” I kept saying and at one point I looked at Alex and said “I don’t want to do this anymore”. He looked at me with sad eyes and said “I don’t know what to tell you”. He is such a rock for me in labor. He is my words when I can’t form them when I don’t have the strength.

At 11:00AM my OB came and checked me and I was still 6cm. (I stalled at 6 with Z too) Not wanting to stay at 6 all day, we decided to break my water, as we had with Zandros. Things moved quickly. I didn’t feel like getting back in the tub and all that seemed to help was standing and pulling things. I was ripping the mattress off the bed. Alex gave me his arms but I swear I almost ripped his hands off. I started getting really frustrated and wanted to be alone. I do best in a quiet space, by myself, where I can go completely inwards and direct my breath into the pain. If I could I’d like to give birth in a field, completely alone. The thing about transition is you never know when it’s happening, but everyone around you does! I slammed the bathroom door and grabbed onto the sink. I turned the cool water on, grabbed the faucet knobs and pulled through the next few contractions. I have never experienced such an incredible moment in my life. Here I was in this cold, hard, porcelain sink but it didn’t feel that way at all. In my mind it was this beautiful tree woman. (I know how this sounds…. but seriously, it was insane) She was embracing me and I could feel her soft belly and bosom. I could feel her pulling me into her, letting me find comfort in her chest. Then I felt Solla’s head drop. It wasn’t painful at all like with Z, it felt familiar. My body began pushing and I swung the bathroom door open. “I’m pushing!” We had to move to another room since I wasn’t going to deliver in the tub. Everyone was very concerned with me walking through the hallway with just a bathing suit top on. Let me tell you, I could not have cared less. I shuffled out with everyone shielding me and trying not to drop down and give birth in the reception area.

Another contraction in the bathroom with my tree mama sink helping me out and I was ready. Alex had told them to make a bed on the floor for me (I am someone who needs to feel grounded when pushing. The thought of being up on a bed freaked me out beyond belief. I need to be on the ground.) Just in time I dropped to my hands and knees and Solla’s head popped out. No sharp tearing like with Z. Her head felt so tiny! I was seriously concerned she was going to be 3 lbs. The contractions calmed a bit and my body took a break, with Solla’s head hanging out just looking around at everyone. Another contraction came and my body squeezed her out. She was born at 11:53am weighing 6lb 13oz. I swung around to grab her and tried to bring her to my breast to nurse but her cord was too short. So I just cradled her on my lap saying “OMG WHY IS SHE SO LITTLE! SHE’S LIKE 3 LBS!” Everyone assured me I was insane and she was at least 6 lbs. She had this gorgeous head of hair and squishy little face. Then I started to feel another contraction coming. Terrified I would crush her with the pain, I asked them to cut her cord as it had just stopped pulsing and take her. Alex took his shirt off and snuggled her naked body on his chest while I delivered Winter.

twin natural birth story 2

I flipped back to my hands and knees and felt Winter slip out in one contraction, still in the caul. “STOP, wait! She’s in the caul! take a picture Courtney!” they were saying…my body wasn’t listening and she slipped all the way out at 11:59 weighing 6lb 12oz. They say that babies born in the caul are different, special. She really is. She KNOWS. She has been here before. Always watching. She had the most insanely dark almond shaped eyes and round little face. I flipped back to sit down and inspect her. The placentas came out easily with one push, and just like that we had our little girls.

twin natural birth story 3 I started hemorrhaging a bit, typical with twin births as my uterus was so stretched out. I nursed the babies in bed, snuggled them, sat in shock as my arms were filled with two new little beings, one who wore my face and one who wore Alex’s. Zandros came and met his sisters, slightly timid at the sight of two little babies nursing on HIS mookahs (what he called my breasts). Visitors came and went and I was still bleeding quite a bit. When I would sit up or move at all I would feel gushes of blood hit my feet. They gave me a shot of Pitocin in my leg, and some other pills to help stop the bleeding but nothing was working. I had some dinner plate size clots that were slightly concerning. My midwife came in and said “Listen, you willed all of this to happen. You wanted this perfect labor and birth, you got it. You wanted full term twins who looked nothing alike, you got it. WILL YOURSELF TO STOP BLEEDING.” So I did. AND I DID.

A few days later, very tired and weak and ready for my big bed so I could have a place to comfortably nurse the babies together and sleep together, we went home.

I have never felt as empowered as I have after I have given birth. To meet that dark place, that place of such physical agony, where you know you can’t escape the pain, you can’t escape your body and to persevere…to make it through that, to me, really illuminated my strength as a woman, as a mother. I needed to know going into motherhood how strong I really am.

Our family grew by two and it has changed us in immeasurable ways.  This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. It was terrifying and empowering and hysterical and lovely and amazingly enough, everyone was right- I don’t remember a thing!

twin naturla birth story 4

Submitted by Samantha Kelly. You can find her blog here.

From All Clear To All The Sperm: A Post-Vasectomy Hospital Birth Story

From All Clear To All The Sperm: A Post-Vasectomy Hospital Birth Story

Thomas’ birth story really begins with his conception. After one biological child and one adopted child, my husband and I were done having biological children. We knew this with all certainty and he had a vasectomy in December of 2015. After going back and getting checked 4 times he finally received the all-clear – zero sperm – in May of 2016. In October of that same year I was 2 weeks late. I actually assumed it was menopause but before embarrassing myself at my midwife office, I decided to take a test.

Positive. Another one. Positive. Pregnant.

I called Jarrod at work and broke the news. I was devastated. Heartbroken. Full of anxiety. Overwhelmed. He remained mostly calm. I wanted to puke. Within a few weeks we had our answer – his body had (miraculously) healed itself and he had “all the sperm”. We were having a baby in June. Baby #3. How in the world? It took me months to really get excited. We found out at Christmas that we were expecting a boy. I was overjoyed. We decided to name him Thomas Isaac. Thomas because all of us have 6 letters in our name and for Jarrod’s brother, Tom. Isaac because Sarah laughed when God told her she was pregnant in her old age. Her pregnancy was impossible and so was mine. I identified with Sarah and knew our little boy needed to carry the name Isaac.

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful. It was hard but I continued walking several miles a day until the day I delivered. Pregnancy at 35 was much harder than at 29…especially with two active children! But I did it. Even into the hot Texas summer!

On Wednesday, June 14th we were in the midst of hosting Annual Conference at First Mansfield. I had a midwife appointment at 9:15am that morning. I was 38.5 weeks pregnant and had been experiencing cramps and mild contractions for the past few weeks. I saw Lindsey and caught up with her. She checked me and I was 2.5cm and 70% effaced. Baby boy was “locked and loaded.” She predicted that we’d have a baby before the end of the weekend! We went into planning mode! Owen was prepped and ready to come in the middle of the night and the Houston Johnstons made plans to come up for the weekend.

Cramps continued and contractions would come and go. On Saturday, June 17th I walked so many miles. I’d have contractions every 3-4 minutes for an hour or so, come home from my walk and they’d all but stop. It was so frustrating! I tried to rest and remain calm but it was so overwhelming. Tom and Jessica took Wesley and Eloise with them to Houston on June 18th with plans to bring them back on Wednesday to meet their baby brother!

While the kids were gone, Jarrod and I tried to enjoy life. We saw Wonder Woman, watched Hidden Figures, and went for walks each night. It was glorious but I missed our kids like CRAZY.

I had another midwife appointment at centering on Tuesday, June 20th. Lindsey led out class that day was was shocked to see me. She stripped my membranes and told me to walk. I was 4-5cm and 70% effaced. I walked. Jarrod and I went to Target and Pei Wei. I was very uncomfortable. We went back a few hours later to have her strip my membranes again. We walked downtown. I did the stairs at the courthouse. Contractions continued. And then stopped.

The next morning I came back and Summer stripped my membranes for a 3rd time. She was calm, told me to relax, and rest. I did just that. I went home and worked from my comfy recliner. I walked if I wanted to walk, but not to trigger labor. I worried that this baby would never come and  the kids were coming home! But Tom and Jessica decided to keep Ellie and Wes until the end of the week. We made plans for them to come home on Friday. I was devastated but realized it probably made the most sense.

Thursday and Friday came and went. No baby. Tom brought the kids home on Friday night. Late. Because Wes puked in his car. OMG. It made my anxiety go wild. How would I ever have a baby and a sick kid?? What if everyone got sick?? But my babies finally made it home. Tom stayed overnight. Wes was sick and it was a long night. Saturday morning came and I was 40 weeks pregnant. Tom and Jarrod went to see a movie and I stayed home with the kids. We watched a movie and relaxed. Wes was still under the weather.

Sunday morning I got up and went to church. I was bummed not to have a baby, but knew that work would be good for me. Wes was still feeling decent and no one else got sick…except his cousin in Houston… Sunday night however, Wes took a turn for the worst and puked again. It didn’t seem like a tummy bug but he definitely wasn’t feeling fabulous!

Monday morning Vacation Bible Camp started at church! I called the pediatrician and spoke with the nurse. She made some recommendations for Wes and we kept him home from VBC. I got some work done in the office and came home to work from my comfy chair. I still couldn’t believe I was pregnant and baby hadn’t arrived yet! Jarrod’s mom stayed the night on Monday night just in case…

On Tuesday morning I brought the kids to Vacation Bible Camp and got more work done. Jarrod and I headed to my appointment at 10:45am. I saw Allison this time and she was just as relaxed as Summer. Baby would come when he was ready. I was still 4-5cm and 70% effaced, which was incredibly disappointing to me. Allison was encouraging and said that IF we had to do an induction, it would likely go quickly. She scheduled a sonogram for Monday to check on baby. I left the office and made an appointment for July 6th. I cried. I was so discouraged. Jarrod and I went back to the church to get the kids. I got more work done and on the walk from my office to get the kids a woman I’d never seen before said, “YOU SHOULDA HAD THAT BABY BY NOW!!” I didn’t know what to say. I cried. I picked up the kids at noon and we all went home for lunch.

By the time we got home and I sat down for lunch, I was really uncomfortable. I’d been cramping but nothing substantial – just the same I’d experienced the past several weeks. I ate my lunch in bed while Wesley watched a show. I wanted nothing more than to be comfortable in my bed with my kids. But I couldn’t get comfortable…

I told Jarrod I was going to take a bath because I felt off. I knew that if I took a bath and felt fine, I could rest. But if things didn’t slow down in the bath, we should probably start timing things or something. I got in the bath and downloaded a contraction-timing app. I timed 3 contractions in the bath – each about 45 seconds long and 3 minutes apart. I decided it was probably time to start moving towards getting out of the house. I got out of the bath and told Jarrod what was going on. Contractions were sending me to my knees and were still about 45 seconds long and 3-4 minutes apart. Things were definitely feeling different. I couldn’t answer Jarrod’s questions but thankfully he knew just what to do. He called our dear friend and she came right over. I said goodbye to Wesley, hugged our friend, and we were in the car just before 2pm.

In the car, we listened to my labor mix and I tried to surrender to the pain. Between contractions I could tell Jarrod what was going on. I wasn’t sure if this was really happening but knew going to the hospital was the right choice. He let the midwives know we were on our way. I told him not to let them tell us otherwise. We were coming in.

We arrived at the hospital around 2:30pm and found a parking spot on the 6th floor of the parking garage. The thought of getting in a hot parking garage elevator terrified me. I walked down the 6 flights of stairs. I stopped once to have a contraction. We made it across the street and I had another contraction. We got inside and went upstairs to labor and delivery. Evidently even though we did the hospital tour, we still weren’t sure where to go… Rather than go to observation and triage, we went straight to L&D. They buzzed us in and then looked so confused when we got there. A precious nurse (Ana) said she’d take us into a room, check me, and then take us back to triage. I found out later she knew I’d never make it back to observation.

Contractions had me kneeling on the floor at the foot of the bed. Between contractions, I got on the bed and was ready to be checked. Ana checked on the baby and checked me. I begged to be more than 4-5 cm because I was ready for all the drugs. During a contraction she checked me – almost 9 cm. We were having a baby! I was so relieved. I knew I’d never be able to make it long with that pain without any drugs, so I was thrilled to hear that most of the hard part was over.

They got us into a room fairly quickly and soon our midwife Summer arrived. In cowboy boots. Because she’s a badass. I was in extreme pain. Contractions were so intolerable. Everyone was incredibly encouraging, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I was constantly changing positions in attempt to get comfortable. I leaned over the back of the bed for a while, kneeled on the floor, stood for a while, and laid on my side. Nothing that I thought would work actually helped. I got cramps in my legs and thought I was going to puke. I insisted that Jarrod not touch me but rather fan me and give me ice water.

I thought I couldn’t do it. Summer insisted that I could and that God created me to do this. Jarrod prayed for us just before Summer broke my water. She offered but didn’t push or insist. After one contraction, I knew I needed her to do that. I needed things to be over. She broke my water and they got concerned that there was meconium in the water. Initially there was a color to the water, but the more that came out, the more clear it was. She let me know that she was going to call nursery to be there, but I don’t think they ever did. Soon I got up and sat in the bathroom for a little while. Summer was very concerned that I’d deliver the baby on toilet and asked that I get back on the bed.

Back on the bed I began pushing. I could feel our baby moving down. I was still in extreme pain but felt like I was actually doing something. Our two nurses and midwife kept telling me that he was almost here. One more push. One more push. Push again. Jarrod could see his head. He had hair. Of course he did!

But I knew they were lying! It wasn’t just one more push… I worked hard. Summer worked hard and our nurses encouraged me to push, breathe, and push. I wanted to quit several times but once I could feel him so low, I knew pushing would get everything over! I visualized our little boy coming out and straight to my chest. I talked to him and told him we were ready. Jarrod was so encouraging and believed in me when I didn’t think I could do it anymore.

Unfortunately, I had a very similar experience as last time… My tissue wasn’t stretching. Summer started talking to me about what was happening but I knew. She needed to cut. The tissue wouldn’t stretch. I told her to do it as soon as possible. She got me a shot, cut, and worked hard with me to not tear. I pushed gently and after a few pushes, our little man was out and on my chest! He was born at 3:46pm. Just about 2 hours after I decided we should begin heading to the hospital. He was screaming and wiggling and perfect. I knew he’d have hair, all our babies have hair, but I had no idea it would be strawberry blond!

Once our little man was here, the pain was almost completely gone and my mind was clear and in the moment. I thanked everyone so much for doing such hard work to bring our little man into the world. On my chest, they helped clean him up and Jarrod and I got to know him. Summer let me feel the cord pulsating, which was incredible. After about 10 minutes  I was ready for her to cut the cord and deliver the placenta. I was getting very crampy and uncomfortable. Jarrod cut the cord and Summer delivered the placenta. Of course during all of this she and the nurse were mashing on my uterus. I was having some bleeding and clots, so Summer gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg to get my uterus to contract and help stop the bleeding.

After delivering the placenta, they took Thomas to be weighed and measured. He was about 5 feet from me the whole time and this was when Jarrod finally got to hold him. About 15 minutes later I was ready for him again. While he was being weighed and measured, Summer sewed me up. I had a 3rd degree tear that required some attention. Jarrod got some great time with Thomas while Summer took care of me. When I got Thomas back, he immediately nursed.

Around 4:30pm Summer sent a note to Allison, the midwife I’d seen in the morning, to let her know she did the trick and helped get things going for Thomas to be born! It was such a neat experience and I’m so grateful for the amazing midwives and their friendship. Hannah taught our centering pregnancy class and told me my labor would be about 3 hours, Lindsey and Summer both swept my membranes to get things going, Katie told me my labor would be about 3 hours as well, Allison definitely got things moving, and Summer caught our baby. It takes a village! 🙂

By around 6pm we were moved into our recovery room. We got settled up there and I asked for some food and some medicine. I knew the cramping with my 2nd delivery would be more painful than my first. And it was. Motrin helped a lot. Jarrod went out to get himself some dinner and we met our nurses. I desperately wanted to take a shower but was told I’d need to wait until the morning. I ended up changing into my own clothes and getting ready for bed. I was exhausted. Unfortunately we still had a bunch of visitors that night…

Because I had Thomas so quickly, they weren’t able to take blood before he was born. So they sent someone in to take my blood. He was less than awesome and ended up leaving our door open for about 30 minutes while he got some answers and then he used some kind of bionic tape that left tape residue all over my arm. The lactation nurse came in as well and talked to me about latching and was incredibly encouraging. Around 11pm I fell asleep. I woke up after 2am and never went back to sleep. Our nurse was incredible and so kind. She only came in to do what was necessary and spaced out our visits as much as she could. I watched HGTV until morning, while feeding Thomas and talking with nurses.

In the morning, we laid out a plan with our nurse to get home by that evening. We’d already begun talking about this when we left labor and delivery after Thomas arrived. Our nurse was very helpful and let us know what all needed to happen before we could go home. He needed a shot, his hearing test, circumcision, 24 hour tests, and bath. She also let me take a shower!! It was glorious and definitely helped me feel more human! We did the shot and hearing test during the day, but everything else had to wait until the 24 hour mark. We also made plans with Jarrod’s mom to bring Wesley and Eloise up to the hospital to meet Thomas! They arrived around 9:30am and it was the most beautiful thing ever. They instantly loved him and wanted to smother him completely. My heart exploded about 900 times.

After the kids left, we ate lunch and began to clean up to go home! While we were preparing we had a visitor – one of the midwives from the practice! Candis happened to be the midwife on call at the hospital during our stay. She needed to visit to get us out of the hospital and we were beyond thrilled to see her! She delivered Wesley 5 ½ years ago and was such an incredible encouragement. We shared stories and visited with her for a while. It was about 1pm and she’d already caught 3 babies on her shift.

They took Thomas around 3:15pm to do his circumcision and brought him back around 4:30pm having done his tests, bath, and circumcision. After his bath, they did his hair in a mohawk. It was the most amazing thing ever. His clean hair looked so much lighter and more red!

Once he was back with us, it was time to begin the journey out of the hospital! Jarrod needed to move the car, take down some bags, we needed a wheelchair, etc. That whole process took over an hour. It was frustrating, but I was so ready to go home! We were finally on our way by 6pm!

We arrived home – a family of 5! My heart is overwhelmed with love and my body is exhausted. I imagine this is what it will feel like for the next 15-20 years. The little baby I never expected is now my precious son that I cannot imagine life without. How in the actual world.

Recovery has been easier than last time. I’ve given myself permission to rest. I had my placenta encapsulated and I am convinced that is helping. I’m not nearly as weepy as I was with my first. Breastfeeding is more painful than I’d hoped it would be, but we’re doing it! I’m hoping that by spending a lot of time in and around bed, my healing will be faster than the 6 months it took with my first.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Leanne Johnston.

What Fate Had In Store For Me – A Twin Hypnobirthing Birth

What Fate Had In Store For Me – A Twin Hypnobirthing Birth

I married the man of my dreams in 2011. I had been quite sick prior to the wedding and had lost a lot of weight due to my illness (silver lining, I fit in to my wedding dress!). The doctors told me that I probably couldn’t have children and that if I did ever by some miracle get pregnant I have a very high risk of miscarriage.

So my husband and I had a lovely time on honeymoon and we got back filled with love and lust for life. A week later when my period was late and my husband was away I decided I would do a pregnancy test – I was bored and didn’t think for one second that I would be pregnant so when it came out positive I nearly fell off the bed in shock. 

I told him as soon as he was home and after the initial shock (and swearing) he was thrilled (and terrified, cue more swearing). I had quite a few bleeds and decided to go for a scan at six weeks – I thought I was losing the baby and needed confirmation that I was still pregnant. The scan confirmed it and I was over the moon – a healthy little heartbeat!

Another 3 weeks later – another bleed – again I needed to know so I went with my best friend to see what fate had in store for me. I was not expecting the answer…TWINS! They had only seen one in the previous scan so this was a complete shock! I called my husband immediately and in the middle of his office he swore at the top of his voice. To this day I don’t know if it was “happy” swearing or “terrified, my life” is over kind of swearing. 

Fast forward five months and my twins were born very prematurely at 26 weeks. 

This shock is one we are still recovering from but one that has changed my path in life forever.

I thank my lucky stars every day that I had been teaching Hypnobirthing for years prior to the birth of my twins – I used my tools and techniques throughout the birth to birth them safely and naturally. Passing through the birth canal offers so much goodness to preemies that can set them up for life and I’m pretty sure it has led to their health they show today.

Premature labours are often more intense than full term labours as the body goes into over drive so there’s a lot more sensation to deal with. As my surges got closer and closer and more and more intense, I went fully in to my hypnobirthing state, eyes closed, deep breathing, my husband gently speaking in to my ear, blocking out the frenzy around me. I was in my own special place – I imagined being in my water pool, dim lighting and gentle sounds soothing my surges.

I remember the doctor shouting loudly to “check mum’s pulse!” I was so deep in to my own zone that it looked like I was sleeping or had passed out! I birthed my first little one, Xander completely naturally with three big, deep, birthing breaths. Joey on the other hand enjoyed all the space his brother had left behind and turned transverse. After a threat of c-section, internal turning and then me telling them all to back off, a team of three managed to shift him in to vertex position externally. He started to play ball and he was born assisted breach again, completely naturally.

I wasn’t able to hold my boys until three days after they were born as they were so little and struggling with their early entrance in to life but they are now thriving and amaze me every day with their strength and love.

My birth was the absolute opposite of what I had imagined, but thanks to using hypnobirthing and my husband’s support throughout the birth I am able to look back and be thankful that I did my best. It was an incredibly positive experience and one that I am really proud of. I am now even more inspired than ever to teach hypnobirthing and help mums enjoy their special day no matter what path our little monkeys decide to take to enter the world. Birth is never perfect but it can be positive. Mine definitely was.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Sophie Englefield

Not Quite the Plan or 100% the Plan? A Hospital Birth

Not Quite the Plan or 100% the Plan? A Hospital Birth

My due date was January 22, 2017.  We had planned so much more with this baby than we did our son.  We prepared our son the best we could, I switched my doctor to midwives, we wrote a detailed birth plan, we hired a wonderful doula and toured a wing of the hospital called “The Birth Place” that is designated specifically for low risk pregnancies. They have a queen size bed, rocking chair, and private bathroom.  Mother’s labor, deliver, and recover in the same room. They do not administer Pitocin there or epidurals. I had such a horrible experience with my first with both of those that I was immediately drawn to that aspect. Sign us up…

My due date came and went on a Sunday.  I had an appointment the next day at 40 weeks and 1 day for an ultrasound to check my fluid level with a follow up appointment with my midwife.  I got into the follow up appointment to start a non stress test around 1:30 pm. My midwife came in and had a look that I recognized as a not fun one.  I had much too much fluid left for being that late in the game and she wanted me to head in to the hospital around 4 pm: not quite the plan. I immediately started crying as the words she spoke shot through my brain: break your water, cord before baby, placenta could tear from wall, possible Pitocin, minutes to get a c-section if cord comes first…

So in we went armed with prepped-for-a-week bag, specific pillow for comfort, new, fuzzy, purple socks a friend bought so I wouldn’t be stuck with hospital ones, and anxiety. So. Much. Anxiety.  

Unfortunately, because they had to do some slight induction actions, I was not able to go to the Birth Place as I wanted: not quite the plan. The midwife there at the hospital started a little pill to get my cervix to start thinning and dilate a little more.  She had planned on doing three rounds of it. After the first, I had some bloody show which I was waiting for so that gave me hope. Braxton hicks had picked up a little after the first dose. Then again with the second one. I had made enough progress after the second one that she did not do the third dose.  She said my body was starting to do things a little on its own so she didn’t want to do the third and stress the baby, which was good.

So come the next morning, January 24, the midwife that sent me in from the office was on her shift.  I met her in the hall walking laps as contractions were starting to pick up a little. I excitedly caught her up on what was happening: I was a solid 2 or 3 cm, contractions were coming on their own, I was walking laps to keep them going.  I went back to my room about 930/1000 am. The midwife came in and broke my water which was way less scary than I expected. Let me tell you… it’s a very gross feeling having your water broken. I sat up in bed to make sure the water kept draining.  She kept her fingers up near my cervix to make sure baby’s head was coming down first. She fell right into place as we were hoping. I sat in bed for about another hour. Contractions got just a little more intense so we decided to call in our doula. Our wonderful doula walked laps with us and brought me to some stairs so I could go up and down a few times.  The goal was just to keep contractions going. We did this for just about most of the day.

We went back to my room about 330 pm.  The midwife came in and said basically that we were running out of time: not quite the plan.  She said she wanted to postpone Pitocin as long as she could but we were running out of options and I was not progressing fast enough.  Because I had so much fluid, my uterus had been overstretched for so long that the contractions it was doing were not really doing anything.  My uterus was tired: I feel ya sister. So the midwife said as a last ditch effort to try nipple stimulation for an hour. They brought in a pump and I was to pump until I felt a contraction, wait five minutes and if a contraction did not start on it’s own, then to pump for another five minutes until a contraction started, and keep the pattern going for an hour.  We were looking for contractions to go on their own between 3-5 minutes and last a minute long. At first, they did not come unless I was pumping but then they started coming between 3 and 4 minutes, and only lasted about 45 seconds. The midwife came in after about 45 minutes and recommended going on Pitocin: not quite the plan. The saving grace was that they did not push Pitocin the way the hospital we had our first baby at did.  They start off at 2, and then go up by just one unit in cases like mine. Since my body was showing obvious signs of trying desperately to do something on it’s own, it just needed a little push.

Pitocin definitely got contractions going more.  At about 600, they bumped the Pitocin from 2 to 3 units.  My doula put counter pressure on my back during contractions while my husband played specially requested songs on youtube through his phone for me.  

At about 6:30 pm, the midwife came in to check me and I was 7 cm. Thank goodness. Only 3 cm to go.

I said “really? Seven centimeters already?”

She smiled and said, “ yeah, I told you your body just needed a little push from Pitocin.”

I was shocked because the contractions I was having did not feel like what I imagined 7 cm contractions would feel like. She recommended I get in the labor tub to sort of catch up with myself for a minute and relax before things got even more intense.  So at about 6:45 pm I was in the tub. It felt amazing. My doula spread the scent of lavender and her and the midwife helped me breath through contractions in the water. Before I left my room for the tub, my midwife told me to let her know if I felt any pressure or need to push when I was in there. That most likely meant baby was coming down and I would have to get out and get back to my room as quickly as possible. So I had one contraction and was fine. I had another and felt the pressure.  

I let her know and she said, “okay, let’s do another one and see if the feeling remains and if it does, we’ll get you out and back to the room.”

I felt it more with the third contraction in the water. I immediately stood up in the tub when it was done and said “yep, feeling is still there.”

So we headed back to my room. I had a contraction right as I got to my bed and said to my doula, “I can’t do this.”

She said, “you’re already doing it, it won’t be long now.” I knew as soon as she said it, from my research, that she was right. I got up on the bed and set the back straight up so I could lean over it during contractions which quickly became more serious. I asked for the music to be turned off and my doula rubbed a cold washcloth over my forehead which was one of the most amazing feelings at that moment.

The midwife checked me and said there was a little bit of cervix left to go but I was almost there. I knew from the experience of my son that it would not be long.  The same thing happened with him and 10 minutes after my doctor said that to me, I was ready to push. The midwife was having me sit back on my knees with each contraction and really let gravity do its work.  I became very quiet and internal during the contractions and had the sensation that I was having a bowel movement. In the next second I thought, that’s the baby coming down. I said to the midwife “my body is pushing on its own, she’s coming on her own.”

She said “okay, well try not to, because I don’t know what your cervix is doing yet.”

I thought to myself I don’t know how to stop it from happening, it just is.  The midwife asked for me to turn at least on my side so she could check again to make sure I was good to push. The only problem with that was during my pregnancy I had horrible pelvic pain from everything loosening and stretching like it was supposed to. Adding the extra pressure of baby coming down and moving in any other way other than upright was excruciating. I managed to slither, for lack of a better word, onto my side.  She checked me and I was ready to go.

I had a sudden rush of fear.  I went to push with the next contraction and I felt just the beginning of the ring of fire. That was the only time I let out a scream. I instantly thought, “oh no, I don’t want to do this anymore, no way.” But I knew, it would be over soon and the head was the hardest part. I had to 5-second pep talk myself and just go for it.  That’s what I did. Let me tell you one more time, that ring of fire is nothing to mess around with. But it was the most amazing feeling to be able to feel her head coming. I reached down and felt her as she was crowning. I will never forget how slimy and wonderful her head felt to me and how I’m 90% sure I said the actual word “ick” as I wiped the slime off on my thigh.  Her head was almost out, probably to her nose, when I stopped the push I was doing and I thought, “nope, I don’t want to sit here in this much pain with her head just sitting there, just a little more of her head to go.” I gave half of  another push and I felt her head come the rest of the way.

One of the best parts was looking down at her and watching her turn herself like they are supposed to. I saw her face and she was already screaming. I was thinking “okay, just her body now, one more push and you’re done,” when the midwife said “do you want to pull her the rest of the way? Grab under her arms.”  

I didn’t even respond. I instinctively reached down while I was pushing, scooped her under her arms and pulled her up onto my chest. She slid right out, I laughed and said, “I am woman, hear me roar!”

The things you say in a baby induced oxytocin high.

We did delayed cord clamping, the midwife let me feel her cord pulse. The placenta was delivered and she brought it over to me to explain all the parts of it which was amazing to me.  My mom was even looking at me in awe. My husband cut the cord and she was weighed and measured. Adeline Rebecca was 7 pounds 9.5 ounces and 21 inches long. I was able to nurse her immediately and she was a champion from the beginning. The nice thing is that even though I was not able to deliver in the Birth Place, I was able to recover there. They wheeled me and baby to the new room with a queen size bed, rocking chair, and private bathroom.  My husband and I curled up in the bed with Adeline so he could do some skin to skin contact with her. She was awake, alert, and making eye contact with us as if she was as amazed by us as we were by her: 100% the plan.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Kathryn Garceau. 

Birth and Children Are Not All Balloons and Roses

Birth and Children Are Not All Balloons and Roses

My twin girls were born early at 30 weeks and five days. Yesterday I saw a friend posted on Instagram, the birth of his beautiful baby girl. The pictures were incredible. His wife delivered naturally, he got to help in the delivery of his baby, and immediately after, they put their first child on her chest. Both parents were able to cherish that moment, in what seemed like a magazine article on the picture perfect child birth.

I burst out crying.

Selfishly, I was NOT crying out of happiness for them, I was crying out of sadness for myself. I had an unplanned C-section, and upon delivery my babies were immediately taken to the NICU after I had just barely had a glimpse of them. As I looked at these pictures on Instagram of my friend’s perfect birth, I realized I would never have that experience. No vaginal birth, no holding my baby and I didn’t have that immediate feeling of “LOVE like you’ve never felt before,” you know the thing that all parents talk about when they first have their child.

Instead, I spent the first 24 hours after my babies were born feeling completely disconnected as if I was watching someone else’s life happen. I didn’t feel like a mom or have an overwhelming love and connection. Instead, I felt the complete opposite. I was scared, filled with anxiety and freaking out that this is not the way I am supposed to feel after the birth of my children.

My parenting comparison had already started. I questioned everything. Asking myself, “is this how I am supposed to feel? I’ve only ever heard about the overwhelming love and joy. What is wrong with me? Is this postpartum? Is it because I didn’t do it the right way, should I have pushed more and stayed the course of a vaginal birth?”

I continued with the self-shame: I will never get the experience of holding my newborn after delivery. Will this affect them and me for the rest of our lives? What does this scar mean and how will it affect my body? How long will they be in the NICU, did I do something to make them come early… Am I going crazy?

How come no one talks about this stuff? The doubt, the unstoppable crying, the night sweats. OMG, the night sweats. After 48 hours of pure anxiety, I woke up and realized something…..

Here are these two girls who were just brought into the world who know nothing but how to wiggle their toes, while they are trying to figure out how to breathe. I am already putting the pressure on them and myself on having the perfect birth. This is how parenting shaming starts, and this is how we create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and our children. Seriously think about it, our kids start out perfectly innocent, knowing nothing. With no standard on how they are supposed to look, dress or how they were meant to be born they are just working on staying alive at this point.

A lot of us are following a program to what our life is supposed to look like and to be honest; it’s a false program. We think if we just do it right, always give 100% and make it look like it’s supposed to look, then we are successful. The fact is, no one can give 100% a 100% of the time, it’s impossible. So why are we trying so damn hard to be perfect, to one-up each other? The expectations we have accepted from what society puts on us are FALSE expectations, and we have to stop.

Birth and children are not all balloons and roses. I don’t even have my girls home, and I’m already feeling the pressure of what’s right and wrong and what feelings I’m supposed to be feeling. What about being present in the moment my girls are alive and thriving. All they need right now is support and love. They don’t care if I cry or second guess myself they care I am here holding them, reading to them, kissing them and everything else is B.S.

I am committing to a platform of raw, open and real honesty. I have done this on all my other blogs about body image, food, and alcohol and I am committing to it as a parent. I will be honest about ALL the stuff. The good, the bad and the worse because I believe as parents and as a society, we need to talk more about the hard stuff, so we know we are not alone. We have to remind each other that the “perfect family” on Facebook is NOT real life.

If we want the best for our children it has to start with us, the parents. We would never want to pass our insecurities onto our children: our body issues, food issues, and low self-esteem issues. It all starts with us leading by example, and working on our comparisons of ourselves to others.

I want to change the message. Here are three things that hit me like a ton of bricks after childbirth:

Not everyone has the initial, “love like you’ve never felt before” immediately after childbirth, and that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. However your babies came to you and however, you feel is exactly how it is supposed to be for YOU.

Comparisons, guilt, shame, anxiety, and uncertainty all are REAL. We all have negative thoughts. Don’t keep them inside. Find a tribe or one person to talk to, or even this blog to leave a comment on. You are not alone in how you’re feeling, let it out and let’s support one another.

No one and I mean NO ONE has a grip on parenting. The person you think has it all together could be a complete mess and just scared to share the struggle. It’s time we talk about the struggle.

My birth plan was NOTHING that I thought it was going to be and you know what? It’s OK. Every day is a rollercoaster but I’m on it, embracing it and I’m mentally committing to being present in it, ALL OF IT. Even the dark stuff.

To any parent out there struggling, to anyone, anywhere struggling, with or without kids, you are not alone! I am here for you. We NEED to be here for each other. Let’s talk about the REAL stuff, let’s stop judging one another and come together. It’s time we teach the younger generation and each other that self-worth comes from what we think of ourselves, not what society has put on us. It’s time to change the conversation and lead by example.

I love you thank you for letting me continue to be honest, real, raw and open with you. Thank you for allowing me to continue to tell my story. I love each and every one of you, we are in this together!

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Jenny Schatzle

Home Water Birth in Ireland

Home Water Birth in Ireland

Birth really has been one of my biggest adventures and something I’ve become so passionate about. So, I personally have done it three times now, and ranging from horrific to brilliant, I reckon if I had a fourth go it could be pretty damn perfect! But, I’m not saying there’ll be a fourth!!! A positive birth is hands down one of the best gifts as a woman you can get. Positive comes in many, many forms and I believe it really comes down to what a great birth means to you!

The Background

So here’s the deal…..My first birth was traumatic, my second birth was better, but number three was, well, pretty amazing! My first birth took place in Holles Street as a semi-private patient, I didn’t have a clue! I thought birth was going to be horrendous. And guess what, that self prophecy came true. It was. Awful. But I got my baby girl at the end so I should be happy, right? Well yeah, but not actually. Of course I was happy with my beautiful child but the horrors of my labour really haunted me for quite sometime. Not long after I decided if I ever had another child it would be so different, and it was. I became really educated on birth and did a huge amount of reading and research.

On my second pregnancy, I booked in with the dominoes midwife-led care, in Holles Street. And this time I opted for a homebirth. I was low risk, so qualified for midwife led care and all going well I’d birth at home, in my own space. This REALLY excited me! Thankfully David was also fully on board. Like, we knew it would freak some people out and it does. But most people are interested, in my experience. We did the research, we knew the stats and they are really, really good and guess what, homebirth is safe! I know who knew?! Next part of the jigsaw was sorting out the fears that were still very much alive from birth number one.

That’s where Gentlebirth came in.

A friend mentioned it casually one day, well before I was pregnant. She kind of half muttered it, and later came clean that she was worried I’d think she was a hippie. Wrong. I thought she was a superhero! Birth number two, took place at home with the domino midwives. It was good, it was intense, more than it needed to be because I was afraid I wasn’t progressing quick enough and they had me squating. Yeah, not something I’d advocate! It got very intense, very quickly but overall was a good birth. What really was lacking for me was the continuity of care. That’s where I nailed it third time around.

As soon as we found out I was pregnant, I booked Liz from UK Birth Centres, also known as Private Midwives Ireland. The care I received was incredible from start to finish, and it was so hard to say goodbye to my midwife Liz, two weeks after Nathan’s birth. Liz did all my antenatal visits from 20 weeks at home, generally on a Sunday morning. When I say visit, it was more like a leisurely morning chat with a friend, who happened to really know her shit when it came to all things birth. She’d stay for two hours-ish at every visit and we discussed everything from my wishes for the birth, to my fears about the birth, to how all eventualities could be handled. I was involved with everything! We knew we were in the best hands, and that my friends is the best feeling, whoever your caregiver is. During the visits, Amelia got to play with the stethoscope and the whole family eagerly listened to the doppler echoing Nathan’s heartbeat. That sound is one I’d never tire of. Liz was able to recommend endless helpful things to me. One, amazing woman she introduced me to was Ros Drake from Drake Chiropractic. She works wonders with everything from SPD I had to optimal fetal positioning and has a very impressive rate of turning breach babies through her work. Definitely worth a visit pre labour to ensure you are all lined up for your best birth.

During Nathan’s pregnancy I listened to my Gentlebirth tracks, later did perennial massage whilst listening to my tracks (this really helped me relax and trust my body).

So, baby number three gave me a couple of false starts, I know you’d think you’d know it’s the real thing by your third but he was very convincing I swear! In the two weeks before Nathan’s birth I noticed a LOT of fears surfacing from big baby to fast birth to can I actually do this??! I went through the motions and listened to my tracks most evenings in bed, but worried was this enough! I did focus on some relaxation techniques and found counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to bring me into a state of relaxation most effective! I did also this time use and practice a breathing technique called J breathing which worked for me amazingly in the second stage.

Finally, The Birth Story

On the afternoon of 18th October I started getting mild surges but put them down to strong braxton hicks and refused to think it could actually be happening this time. I was 40+2 and by 8pm I noticed they were coming every 3 minutes but still refused to even share the news with David! I was craving affection and love though and thankfully the toddler went down easy and we had some time chilling out together. At around 10pm he asked me if I’d been getting surges all evening. Turns out he can read me pretty well even when I’m trying to hide it! Anyway we went to bed but I wasn’t expecting to sleep as I was defintely uncomfortable by this stage but I put my Gentlebirth tracks on and I must have drifted off because I woke up in the middle of a dream timing my surges in my head lol! The surge that woke me gave me a fright as it just went on and on and another followed. I was a bit shaky and thought what the f@*# am I doing! I was freaking out as David fumbled with the TENS machine, and he timed surges. They were in fact coming every 3 minutes lasting 45 seconds just as I had been dreaming.. Weird eh! We decided we’d better call Liz but que in all the freaking out, I couldn’t remember where I’d left my phone. By this point my body was a bit shaky and in hindsight reckon active labour was kicking in although I feared transition for a moment. David found my phone which I had put into the wash basket. In my defence, It was 12am!

I spoke with Liz and she decided to make her way over, my mom was also en route in case the kids woke as my toddler regularly does and my youngest sister Sinead who was going to take pics for me.

We came downstairs & David started filling the pool. I put the TENS machine on too. So I noticed that I was going up the TENS notches quick and was at 5 (this is half way). This worried me, thankfully it was around this point I got my shit together and started breathing, and relaxing into it and generally calming down. This my friends made the biggest difference of all! I put the labour companion track from Gentlebirth on in the background, used my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 relaxation technique and breathed. Now I was in control, now I was doing this, now I was enough!!

When Liz arrived I was settled and enjoying the surges, dropping my head and zoning out only for the “peaks.” I was enjoying the surges, feeling the power of birth wave through me. In previous labours I fought against this and that’s when I experienced pain. If you go with it, it’s completely different I swear! It’s really an incredible sensation and experience! We decided to do a cervical check and on first check she said I was 5cm, I then got a contraction and visualised my cervix opening (yup, full on hippy shit) and Liz said oh you’ve just gone to 6cm and it’s very stretchy could easily stretch to a 7.

This is the power of the mind I’ve no doubt!! Visualisation is an awesome tool to use.

For the next short while, I swayed my hips, leaned on David during surges, hugged and kissed and generally enjoyed the labour experience. I could sense things were changing and took a homeopathic remedy called aconite which was fantastic for keeping fear at bay. Liz told me if I’d been in Holles Street they wouldn’t have believed I was in active labour! Talk about empowering a woman, I believed I was going to rock this birth at this stage!! In between surges and sometimes during I was smiling and happy. One of my affirmations was to smile an David kept reminding me of this annoyingly, at times but it did refocus me.

The only sign of transition was a slight tear up in my eyes as I felt emotion rise up in me after a surge. Liz spotted it with her trained eye. There was a few surges at this point where I felt the energy change as it was directed downwards. This followed by that guttural birth sound at the second half of the surge, you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve given birth before naturally. It’s a mad sound, the first time on Amelia, I almost looked around to see who’d made the noise lol! This time I instantly recognised it and felt excited knowing we were getting close.

It was 3.30am and I knew it was time to get into the pool. I was nervous taking the TENS off but I shouldn’t have been because oh. Wow. That water felt amazing around my body! The warmth and support was incredible. My second midwife, Ursula arrived and was a lovely addition to the birth space. Everything was so calm and I felt excited as the second stage began.

I find it hard to explain the second stage as the energy was very powerful, but very empowering at the same time. I felt I was working with the energy and it felt good! I know, slap me. I’d have wanted to slap me if someone told me this after my first birth experience. But I swear, it’s true. This was very different for me from my previous births and I believe it was the absence of fear and the support I had that made the difference. My waters bulged and I could feel them and the head with my hand, I found this very encouraging and then there was a pop; my waters released! Again, on my previous two births I’d have been terrified to feel the head, but this time I was so cool about it.

As the surges came I dropped my head and leant into David, breathing and telling myself to open to birth. I cherish those memories as it really felt like we moved through labour and brought our baby into the world together. It felt very intimate at times and I forgot there was anyone else around. This I will say was short lived and as much as I was disappointed, I’m also glad of what came next. Amelia woke, yep my just turned two year old decided that just as mommy was starting to show signs of crowning that she wanted to watch her baby bro being born! I felt calm and that it was best to let her in. I had shown her some waterbirth videos in case this happened and thank God I did! When she came into the room she kinda knew what was going on, she wanted to be close to me and said “you ok mommy?” and rubbed my arm! Bless her! I asked my mom to wake our 10 year old daughter for the occasion seeing as the birth was taking this turn. I’m glad I did as she found it amazing and calm and is full sure she’ll birth her babies at home. I’m actually so glad she got to experience this, as she has no fear now. What a gift that is!

I had turned onto my back and baby was almost crowning with each surge, but it was only when I mentally decided that I was doing it NOW that he was born. I turned into my husband and zoned out from all the people. With the next surge I felt the power of birth rushing through me and using my ‘j breathing’ brought baby Nathan to crowning. Liz told me after my perineum didn’t stretch as such, she said it opened which I’d read about in Ina May’s book but couldn’t believe it happened to me. Liz said she’d only seen it once before. It did however still sting like a LOT for like 20 seconds and then I felt his head born.

Soon after the next surge came and before I knew it baby Nathan was swimming up to me in the pool! What an incredible sight and feeling! He was covered in vernix and appeared to be sleeping as he was so calm Liz reckoned it was so calm a birth that he hadn’t even realised he’d been born! To our shock we discovered we’d a little boy! Amelia was thrilled saying “baby baby baby!” His big, big sister Alannah couldn’t believe her eyes.

It was a bit manic I’ll say that and myself and David had really wanted that first undisturbed hour together with our new baby but it just wasn’t to be. Amelia was stripping off and joining me in the pool and that was that!

Within a few minutes I got more surges and at 15 minutes felt the urge to push and out came the placenta all by itself! Was seriously loving this birth!

I stayed in the pool for almost an hour getting to know my little prince and he did the breast crawl and fed, but he was so sleepy still no crying at all! We got some pics of us as a family of five and then my mom tried to bring Amelia back to bed. That wasn’t happening, so unfortunately David had to leave me at this point which does make me a bit sad.

Nathan had his chord ready and waiting for his Daddy to cut on his return and to my shock he weighed 9lb 2 almost 2lb heavier than my last! And this pregnancy I was a vegetarian…stunned doesn’t come close! It was also my easiest birth, no perineal trauma, no fear and I mean you just can’t buy that!!

A while later I had a gorgeous hot shower in my own bathroom and was tucked up with my two men soon after in our bed. My midwives were unreal and I honestly can’t thank them enough!

I’m trying to cherish the moments as you never know it could be my last but I’ve a sneaky suspicion with a birth that good it might not be…

Baby Nathan David Hamill born 19th October 2016 at 4:06 am in a room full of love

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Aisling Hamill

Hospital VBAC After a Month of Prodromal Labor

Hospital VBAC After a Month of Prodromal Labor

I had been having prodromal labor for about month straight so when I noticed contractions starting on Sunday evening, I didn’t really think much of it. I went about my evening like normal, put my toddler to bed, watched a little TV, and around 9pm I decided to head to bed. I’m not one to ever have trouble falling asleep but I laid there for about an hour and just could not fall asleep. I noticed my contractions getting a little stronger, but nothing alarming. I mentioned to my husband, Steve, that my contractions were getting stronger and that I thought this might be it. He decided to get in bed and try to sleep in case this was the real deal. I texted my doula, Amber, to keep her updated on how I was feeling. 

I laid in bed with the TV on and tried to ignore the contractions for a while. They were about every 7-9 minutes apart by now and I had to deep breathe to get through them. I tossed and turned in bed until about 1:00am when I decided to hop in the shower in the hopes to relax. I woke up my husband before I got in to tell him I thought this was for real this time. The shower was anything but relaxing. My contractions just got stronger and stronger the longer I was in there. When I got out, I told Steve he needed to call my mother-in-law to come watch our daughter. She lives in Lincoln, so I knew it would be at least an hour before she would get to our house. 

The waves of contractions were getting much more intense now and I found myself leaning over whatever was in reach and moaning when a wave would come over me. Around 1:30am, I told Amber that I needed her to come over. At this point, my husband had gone into hyper-focus mode and decided deep cleaning our entire house was necessary, (he doesn’t cope with labor very well) so I really needed Amber’s support. Before she arrived, the nausea kicked in and I started to throw up. I didn’t have nausea with my first labor, and I can say it was one of the most unpleasant parts of the whole experience. When Amber arrived, my contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart and I was still getting sick. I continued to labor at home for a couple more hours. 

Around 5am, I decided I wanted to head to the hospital. We arrived around 5:30am and I was checked into my room. I had great communication with my midwives during my prenatal care so I knew what types of standard things would be coming my way when I got to the hospital, ie an IV lock and continuous fetal monitoring. They also wanted a urine sample, which was fine with me, but I had no idea how intense my contractions would get from sitting on the toilet! No wonder people always rave about how great it is to labor on the toilet! After that little experience, the nurses got my IV going and put baby on the monitor. The on-call OB came in and introduced herself. She asked to check me and I was pleasantly surprised to hear I was already 9.5cm. 

At this point, my labor stalled a bit. My contractions got a little further apart, probably due to my nerves. Around 7:30am, the nurses came in my room to do their change of shift. I remember asking for an epidural while they were talking. I hadn’t specifically planned for a natural labor but I knew being able to move would give me the best chances for a VBAC, so in the back of my mind, I was always reminding myself of that. The nurses told me to wait until the contraction was over and if I still wanted it, we would discuss it again. After the wave passed, I caught my breath and decided against the epidural. 

Soon after the nurses ended their report, the in-house midwife for the day, Kate, came in. She checked me and again I was very pleasantly surprised. I was 9.5cm! I was almost fully dilated without an epidural! That excitement was quickly diminished when Kate told me that baby was still at a -3 station. The problem with baby being so high while I was almost fully dilated is the risk of cord prolapse if my water breaks. Kate and I had a lengthy discussion about my options in this situation. It was a difficult decision to make but after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to get an epidural and let Kate break my water. This allowed the membrane rupture to be a little more controlled, and also allowed Kate to feel if the cord needed to be moved to prevent a prolapse. After three tries to place the epidural, it was finally finished. That was by far the worst part of my labor experience. 

When I was nice and numb, Kate broke my water and did end up needing to move the cord around baby’s head to prevent a prolapse. Baby dropped to a -2 station after the membrane rupture, which was not as much of a drop as we were hoping for. There was also meconium in my waters. Again, Kate discussed my options with me and I decided to continue laboring. Both baby and I were doing just fine, so I wanted to give my body more time. 

For the next several hours, I alternated laying on my left side, to my right side, to sitting up every 20 minutes. Kate continued to monitor baby and I but baby still was not dropping. I was getting more and more emotional as it seemed a cesarean was in my future but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. My nurse and Amber helped me sit up again but this time it was getting uncomfortable. I asked Amber to grab the birth ball and put it in front of me so I could lean over it. I remember hearing baby’s heart rate drop a little on the monitor. I asked the nurse about it and she said that it can happen during a contraction but as long as the heart rate goes back up after the contraction, it’s fine. We were having trouble-keeping baby on the monitor and I thought it was just due to how I was sitting. This happened a couple more times and then Kate came in. This is when things got a little crazy.

Kate had me lay back down and checked me. Baby was now at a +3! Things get a little fuzzy for me here because it all happened so fast. It seemed like I blinked and my whole room was filled with people. The one thing I distinctly remember is Kate looking up after checking me, and telling me that I was going to have to find my strength and get my baby out. That I was going to have to push with everything I had because my baby needed to get out now. Baby had dropped so fast that her head was transverse in my pelvis. With the very next contraction I was pushing. I continued pushing with every contraction and Kate was able to turn baby’s head into the correct position. I could hear everyone in the room cheering me on. That was one of the most meaningful parts of my whole experience. At 2:22pm after only 22 minutes of pushing, Kate successfully maneuvered her shoulder dystocia and I delivered my beautiful baby girl. She was placed on my belly briefly but was not responding as quickly as the doctors and nurses like to see. Daddy cut the cord and the NICU nurses whisked her away. I’m told she was only gone for about 15 minutes but it felt like hours to me. 

I did it! I am so thankful for Kate, Amber, Steve, and all the nurses and doctors who helped me achieve my VBAC. I am thankful that I had the courage to stay patient and thankful that I was given space and time to make my own decisions. This birth story is so different from my first, and I am so grateful to have been able to have such an incredible experience.

Birth experience and photograph submitted by Samantha Wall. 

Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

(Editor’s note: this birth experience was originally posted on August 23, 2011.)

To gain a little insight of why I had a C-section with my first born, I have it written down as a “vent” on my blog. It basically started out as one intervention cascading into a ball of interventions that led me to a transfer from a “Birth Center” birth to the hospital that ended in a non-emergency C-section for being stuck at 5cm for hours and hours. I did a lot of processing and mourned the birth and post par tum bond of my beautiful baby girl, Alana.

I did my research, got in touch with my local ICAN Chapter and soaked up as much info as I could. I also found a lovely CPM who takes VBAC’s as I knew the best chance of a successful VBAC would to be at home with the least intervention and the most support. I did all my own prenatal’s, skipped the ultrasound, listened and trusted my body to grow my baby and prepare for birth. I was on top of my nutrition and got monthly adjustments from my chiropractor and even got a wonderful massage at the end of my pregnancy.

My VBAC Baby Born at Home
Wow! Where do I begin? Ethan’s birth has so many emotions attached to it. So many hopes and dreams came true the night he was born, on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. It’s hard for me to even write what I really want to write here. Whatever I write, it comes from a deep place in my soul.

First, I just have to give praise and honor to our Heavenly Father…for knowing the desires of my heart, for loving me through some hard challenges in my life and for allowing them to grow me. Our Creator is so good. While Ethan’s birth was hard work for me, I have no regrets. I guess I could say I “wish” things had gone differently, but really I’m grateful for how it was. This is his story.

I woke up Friday the 14th (9 days after my due date) still very pregnant and no end in sight. Then around 10am I went to the bathroom to find “bloody show”. It renewed my faith in my body that things were progressing and that I would be having this baby. I was really hoping that I would be holding my baby within 24 hours, but no. Bloody show came and went and Istill had my all day, every day braxton hicks that would always go away when I went to bed. There was no way I was willing to do anything to speed things along. I knew that in order to have the best possible chance at a VBAC, I would have to allow things to unfold completely unhindered. While it was hard and uncomfortable being so big, I was so at peace with where my body was at and what it needed to do. I continued to have bloody show all through the weekend.

Monday the 17th, I felt different. Lots more bloody show and my contractions were slightly stronger. So I did some massive “nesting” and Alana was my sidekick. It was truly a wonderful day spent with my daughter for the last time just the two of us. We made a pot roast in the crock pot, went to Trader Joe’s for some shopping, cleaned the house top to bottom and made cookies! It was such a beautiful, peaceful day. A day that I will remember forever. Matt was in and out of the house throughout the day working and it allowed Alana and I some time alone together.

Monday night, as we got ready for bed at 11:30pm, I noticed that my braxton hicks were still coming despite how late it was. Usually they had died down by now. So of course I wondered. Went to bed and as I lay there, I couldn’t sleep. Contractions were still coming. I got up to find my phone so that I could start timing them. They were coming every 3-6min. Very short though.

After an hour of this, I decided to get up to pee and I woke up Matt telling him I couldn’t sleep, that I may be in labor. I went pee and had a huge gob of bloody mucus, so I knew that this was the real deal. I told Matt I was going to shower and asked him to pump up the pool. Actually, I think I demanded him to.

I felt really calm, but part of me wanted things ready in case things went quick (wishful thinking). Took a shower and tried to check myself, but everything just felt like mush. I couldn’t tell or maybe I just couldn’t reach my cervix. Matt and I then made the bed up with a shower curtain and a sheet over it while the tub filled. I went downstairs and made some raspberry leaf and nettle tea and grabbed a water and set up my birth snacks on my dresser next to the tub. I told Matt I was happy to labor alone if he wanted to sleep downstairs on the couch. So he grabbed his pillow and a blanket and headed downstairs. To help pass time, I blow dried my hair and did my makeup in between contractions.

I did some hip swaying to give room and even did some squats during the contractions. I made sure to empty my bladder every hour. I was drinking and eating to sustain energy. At 6:30 am, I text my girlfriend, Jessica, to give her the heads up that I had been in labor since 12 am. She was my birth photographer and has an almost 2 year old and knew she was up getting ready for work, so I wanted to give her time to plan for the birth and would keep her posted.

At around 7am Matt’s alarm went off, so I went downstairs to tell him he probably shouldn’t go to work. Matt then asked if I had called the midwife to give her a heads up. That kind of annoyed me because I felt like it was too early yet. Then Alana woke up and pretty much my contractions died at that point. Matt took Alana downstairs and told me to sleep for awhile. I was really distraught because I felt like things were progressing and then the moment Matt and Alana woke, it distracted me and labor had stopped. Ugh!

So I took some Rescue Remedy to help me calm down and I layed down and slept for a couple hours. Then I woke up and took a shower to freshen up. Matt and I had an “upset” so we worked that out (I was still mad over the comment her made about calling the midwife). Nothing like getting irritated at each other when you want to be laboring. Then we ate and decided to go for a walk around 3:30 pm. While walking, I timed my contractions and there were coming every 5 min. I had to stop and lean over something for every contraction or hang on to Matt, whatever I could grab first. I’m sure I was a sight to the passing drivers.

Contractions continued to come after walking and eating dinner. I called Jessica, my mom and sisters and let them know to head on over around 8pm. Even though I had planned to labor alone for the majority of labor, I was so ready for some support. They all showed up and my sister Callie announced that she was making brownies. Grrr. I really wanted some and I never got any. I called my midwife sometime after 8 pm to give her the heads up. She listened to me while I went through a couple contractions and said they are about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 sec. She was currently at another birth and I agreed to keep her posted.

I labored all through the night. Everyone found places to sleep and in the early hours, I want to say around 2am, things were  intense. I think I was pretty tired and my contractions were getting painful. I was in the birth tub for quite a while at this point, but I had been in and out and changing positions every hour. I called the midwife around 3:30 am and was ready for her to come. She and her assistant headed over. I remember about this time feeling intense energy and it was quite overwhelming. I was getting very vocal and loud.

When my midwife came in, she prayed over me and told me where to release the energy in an effective way by vocalizing in a low/deep tone. What a difference that made. I really wanted to scream the pain away, but with the direction from my midwife I was able to welcome the pain and release the intense energy in an effective way. That is what gets me through the rest of my labor.

I ended up moving to my bed to lay down and rest. Contractions spaced out to allow me to doze and get some sleep. I held on to my mom’s hand and squeezed for every contraction. After an hour or so, I was up and ready to get back to business. I labored all over my room and in the tub. Mom made me some breakfast-eggs and hash browns. I layed down again and was able to get a good sleep. I decided to not vocalize and just relax during my contractions. That was hard, but I needed the sleep.

Around 9am, I got up and decided I was ready for a check. I NEEDED to know at this point what progress had been made. My midwife said that I was about 7cm. Yay! To me, that was a good thing. I had only progressed to 6 cm with Alana, so I was happy to be past that hurdle. It was just what I needed to hear to keep me going. My midwife needed to head out for a little while and so did my mom, sisters and Jessica. It allowed me to focus on getting busy with labor.

My mom and sister Kimberly came back around 1 pm and started timing my contractions. I was in the tub, on my knees, hanging over the side and contractions started getting closer, longer and more intense. I held on to my mom for every contraction. My almost 4 year old daughter pretty much stayed in my room. She was amazing. I rubbed my knees raw from staying in this position for so long. There was lots of pressure in my bottom and at the peak of my contractions, I wanted to push. It was so intense, its all I could do. We called the midwife and she was on her way.

About this time, it started to storm outside. It was really cool. I walked the hall, did some laboring on the toilet and would hang from mom’s neck. Midwife got there and I asked her to check me and she said I still have a rim of cervix (9cm) and that I would need to relax through contractions to melt it. “Yeah right!” is what I thought. She said another option was she could hold the cervix while I push the baby past it. I told her I would try “relaxing” to melt the cervix.

Well, an hour later, I hit my wall. I started having thoughts of going to the hospital. I just couldn’t go on. I was exhausted and there needed to be progress. So I yelled down the stairs to my midwife that I would like her to hold it back. She came upstairs and got prepped. She warned me that it would hurt. I didn’t care. What could hurt worse than those contractions? I got propped up in my bed with Callie and Jessica holding each of my legs, while my midwife massaged cervix in between contractions and held it up while I pushed during contractions. It was so hard finding the right place to push. Thank goodness I even had the urge to push. I pushed 4 times per contraction and pushed hard and at one point the assistant told me to hold my breath while pushing. I tried it once and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath in time for the next push so decided that wouldn’t work and I needed to blow air out while pushing.

During this time, I was fed yogurt and drinking Recharge and Emegen-C to keep me fueled. I think I even apologized for any toots I couldn’t hold in. LOL. Finally, the cervix was gone and his head was low enough that I was able to get into a different position.

I head straight for the toilet.  It’s amazing how intense the urge to push is. Our bodies our amazing in that it just takes over and you don’t have a choice. While sitting on the toilet, I was hugging the assistant and my mom and reaching for my midwife’s hand. I think I was reaching for help, for someone to just take the intensity away. For whatever reason, it made sense at the time. I really used some muscles in my body as I was hugging on them hard. I remember saying out loud “I can’t” and the assistant saying back to me, “but you are”. That was powerful and gave me the push to keep going (not like I had a choice, but I was able to rationalize it in my head to keep going).

Some of this is really hazy and I don’t remember much detail, but at this point I was sooo hot and sweaty. I asked for cool rags so the ladies started putting cold rags on me. Then I got in the tub in a reclining position and was still cooking so they brought in a fan and aimed it right at me. I pushed and pushed, then got onto my knees to hang over the side of the tub. I had Callie put counter pressure on my lower back and that was AMAZING relief. I could feel the head come down low during pushing and then suck back up in between contractions.

Midwives suggested moving into different pushing positions since its like trying to cork screw the baby out. So I said I wanted out of the water, but when it came time to move, I didn’t want to. The ladies said “lets go” and so I finally just did it. I really didn’t want to move in fear another contraction came while moving. I squatted on the floor at the foot of my bed and wrapped my arms over my mom and sister’s necks for support. There was a mirror on the floor so that I could see the progress. That was cool and kept me going! Then I decided I wanted to push in a reclining position on my bed. I really wanted to see the progress and my legs were tired so it was time to move.

Propped in reclining position and hanging on to my mom for dear life, I pushed and pushed. There is no pain like the ring of fire. I seriously dislike those ladies who’s babies come flying out and don’t feel the ring of fire. It’s so intense. I watched in the mirror the whole time and reached down and touched his head. It was incredible! I’m so thankful it was slow so that I could process the whole experience. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I just wanted to soak the experience in…the experience that I had longed for and what I missed with my daughter’s c-section. So even though it was painful, God knew that it needed to happen slowly. It was needed for my healing. I will never forget, I was the first one to touch my baby. I was in the moment and feeling totally connected to my unborn baby.

VBAC HBAC

My midwife suggested I grunt, to not push him out too fast and I did that to get his head out. Part of me just wanted to push hard and to get it done and over with. But I chose to ignore that thought since I really didn’t want to tear. Once his head was out (sweet relief!!), I reached down and started touching his face. I got a good minute of touching him and it was surreal. Then my last contraction came and out he came with some maneuvering by the midwives since there was a loose cord around his neck and wrapped around his body and then I reached down and pulled him up to my chest.

HBAC VBAC

He was born on Wednesday, May 19th, at 8:01pm. My sister Callie then saw his parts and announced “its a boy!” and we all squealed in delight! His apgars were 8 and 9 and he squawked when he was born and then it took him another 45 seconds or so to get out a good cry.

The “love cocktail” is real and I got to experience it with my beautiful son. I was instantly in love with him and I smelled, touched and kissed him within minutes of him being born. My daughter got to experience and watch the whole thing. She was right at my side within a minute of baby’s birth, talking and touching him. He knew who is sister was. When she talked, he looked for her and it was soothing to him. She has been so loving with him and I know that her being there for the birth, instantly bonded them. My husband had to walk out of the room because of the intensity, but I know that his heart was full and that he was happy with the outcome. And that he was a BOY!

HBAC VBAC

VBAC HBAC

HBAC VBAC

I had two small tears, one on each labia. I took the stitches in hopes of a quicker recovery. Baby boy weighed in at 9 lbs 10 oz (major shock), 22in long and a 14.5in head! Big, happy and healthy boy milked his time in mama. He came at exactly 42 weeks with no pressure from anyone to have him before then. He chose his birthday! And it took us a little over a week to choose his name, Ethan Matthew Wright. He is simply amazing!

I am forever grateful for my “hands off” midwife who became “hands on” when I needed a little bit of help at the end to get that pesky lip of cervix to move and for her patience and trust in my ability to birth my baby!!!

I also have a picture video here.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Melissa. 

And Baby Makes 9 {HBA4C In Australia}

And Baby Makes 9 {HBA4C In Australia}

“I thought you might be interested in my HBA4C from last year. I have 9 children with 3 vaginal births, 4 cesareans, hospital VBA4C and a HBA4C. I’ve experienced many ups and downs during my labours and births. I am committed to sharing my birth stories to help give others strength and confidence that they CAN have control of their births.

My greatest achievements in life have been my 9 gorgeous children. Each of the journeys that delivered them to me has been unique. With each new pregnancy, my “risk” status grew in the eyes of healthcare providers and I became more determined each time to have the birth that I felt was not only mine by right, but what was best for myself, my baby and my family.

My birth history is quite extensive. I have had 8 hospital births. My first 3 were vaginal births (with interventions), the next 4 births were c/sections (after “failure to progress” diagnosis) 2 of those c/sections were attempted VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), 1 was a “forced” elective. My next birth was a successful VBA4C in hospital. This leads me to the birth story of my most recent little cherub.” – Gerri

This story starts during my 2nd trimester. I had booked into John Hunter Hospital for my 2nd VBA4C. I had birthed my 2 previous babies there with the last one being a VBAC. With this in mind, I expected to have my “risk” level lowered and not be subjected to the same old restrictions whilst in labour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. In fact more restrictions than ever were placed on me… continuous monitoring, NO shower/water, laying on the bed, epidural upon arrival… it was unacceptable that there was no room for negotiation. I began looking at my options.

I met my wonderful midwife at a VBAC support group when I was about 32wks. We got to talking all things birth and one of us mentioned homebirth. It was always something I admired but never thought possible with my history. Lisa was very supportive. We met up a few times and discussed the possibility of me home birthing in detail. My main obstacles, as I saw them, were the fact that 3 out of 4 of my vaginal births were assisted with ventouse (due to posterior positioning of bubs) and I had always been a huge fan of epidurals. A homebirth meant NO medical pain relief. My husband was against the idea as well, but being the independent person I am, told him that I would do it with or without him. After much toing and froing, research and discussion, I decided that a water homebirth would be the best option for another successful vbac.

5th August 2012 – 40+5wks. BAM!!! I’m woken by a particularly strong contraction. It’s 4am. I get up and go to the bathroom to investigate if I’d had a show. Another strong contraction. Wow, this is it; we’re having a baby today!!! 1st thought… remind Rob to get Jasmine to surfing and kids to footy. I wander around a bit with contractions coming strong and regular. 2nd thought… Damn, didn’t do groceries or fold the washing! At 5am I text midwife, Lisa, and doula, Emma, to let them know todays the day.

I get the birth ball out and try some rocking. After a while I feel a bit faint and have to lie down. I text Lisa again at 6am letting her know and ask if she can come over.

When Lisa and Emma arrived I was leaning over the bed. I had started to get the dreaded backache that generally goes with my posterior babies. The girls were both encouraging me to move around and also had a hot water bottle on my back. I just wanted to get in the birth pool. Hubby, Rob, and the kids were putting it up as I was thinking it.

I don’t know what the time was but finally the pool was ready. OMG it was heaven. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the water, but it really helped ease the pain of the contractions. Some of my little ferals popped their heads in at some point to check out what was going on. I could hear the kids on and off all day as they kept themselves amused.

I was so tired. After 5 or 6 hours, sometime around 10am I guess, I asked Lisa to examine me. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere and wanted to know how dilated I was. 8cm, waters bulging… this was good. 7cm had always been my hoodoo number where everything stopped. I could do this, it wouldn’t be much longer.

“Relax, release” I started thinking to myself. I was surrounded by lovely warm water. All I was missing was some drumming music and incense…lol.

Things appeared to be slowing so Lisa and Emma helped me out of the pool and tried some rebozo while I was head down, bum up on the floor. What an odd sensation and damn uncomfortable. Didn’t like it at all!!

Back into the pool. OMG, it still felt awesome! Very relaxing. I had no idea of the time. I had so much backache and pressure in my bum.

After what seemed like an eternity of contractions, I asked Lisa for another VE. I don’t think she was keen. Maybe it was for the best. I didn’t want to know if I wasn’t making progress. There was NO WAY I was transferring to hospital without it being an emergency. I could tough this out! I think I wonder aloud if the hospital would give me an epidural and let me leave? Hmmm… probably NOT!

Next thing I recall is lying in bed with the electric blanket on and a TENS machine attached to me. It was dark, where had the day gone? I felt like I had been labouring a long time, yet I was still surprised when I realised how quickly the time had passed. I was comfy in bed and was sleeping between contractions. The TENS machine kept stopping so I didn’t really use it much.

Random thought… I bet those kids didn’t clean the microwave like I asked!

Emma, my doula, was a constant presence. Whispering encouragement in my ear, getting me to drink her god awful labour concoction and just generally making sure I was as comfortable as could be.

Something was going on with Lisa and Emma. I asked what was happening but Emma assured me everything was fine. I later learnt that Lisa was sick and had to call in her backup midwife. I remember lying in bed and this stranger popped up and introduced herself as the backup. She’d scared the crap out of me… She explained that Lisa had reluctantly gone home and she would now be helping me. All I could think was “poor Lisa, I hope she’s ok, she’s guna be pissed she missed it”.

At some point Emma got me up to the toilet to help keep things moving. I was getting the urge to push with some contractions but it was excruciating. I had so much pressure on my back that I felt I would snap in 2. I tried to stay on the toilet to open my pelvis but had to stand and lean into Emma when a contraction came. I tried reciting the “relax, release” mantra in my head. Stuff that crap, it wasn’t helping!!!

I leant against the bed again with one leg up to open everything and help bub come down more. At some point I vomited in the shower. I had to get back in the pool. Finally the water was warm again and I got back in. Instant relief!

It was around 11pm and I remember thinking our baby wouldn’t arrive until Monday now.

Surely this can’t go on much longer. I was so tired and didn’t want to keep going. I asked the midwife for another VE. I was talking to bub, saying “come on baby it’s time now”. She examined me during a contraction while I pushed to see how far bub came down. The midwife said my waters broke, but I know she helped it happen, bless her. There’s no going back now. I tried pushing with contractions. I don’t know if it was helping. Sometimes it was involuntary and I could feel bubs move, other times it felt like nothing was happening. I was leaning over the edge of the pool on my knees. All of a sudden I felt bubs head come down almost with a whoosh! It seemed to happen so quickly. When he started to crown, I screamed. I had never felt the “ring of fire” quite like this. My contractions slowed and the pain was almost unbearable. This baby was going to rip me in two.

I tried pushing without the help of contractions but it didn’t work. Slowly bubs head made progress. “It’s breech” I heard the midwife’s surprised voice. What? “No, it’s ok. It’s just got big cheeks”. What did this baby look like if you could mistake its face for its bum…

It seemed like forever but finally his head was out. The midwife asked if I wanted to touch it. No, it was too distracting; I had other things going on. I could feel him moving inside trying to position his little body. It hurt like hell!

After a while the midwife’s voice became urgent. She told me to push harder. I was trying. Push… again… harder. “I am” I screamed. Emma and the midwife helped get me over the side of the pool to the floor. I had an enormous head between my legs and couldn’t manage on my own. What an odd sight that must have been.

I’m on all fours on the floor pushing as hard as I could. The midwife’s voice was more demanding and urgent. “Push harder! Baby’s turning blue!”

What was happening? She got me onto my back with my legs pushed back as far as possible. My hubby had called an ambulance but the midwife was still trying to get baby out.

Next thing I know, he’s out and she is talking to him, telling him to breathe. I keep asking if he’s alright. I hear a cry… THANK GOD!!!

It was 2am on Monday 6th August 2012. My brand new baby was put on my chest. I was asking if it was a boy or girl. I couldn’t lift bub high enough to see for myself. IT’S ANOTHER BOY!!! He was so very big and very pink! No wonder he got stuck. Everything seemed to be normal again. We were covered in a blanket. It was almost like there was no emergency. The midwife looked incredibly relieved.

In the meantime the ambo’s arrived. They gave bubs the once over and declared him perfectly healthy. They were only there for 10mins or so.

Someone woke the kids and all of a sudden we had an audience. They each had a little look at their new brother but couldn’t nurse him as he was still attached to the placenta. After a little while, they went back to bed. About an hour later I birthed the placenta but also some clots.

The midwife tied his cord with a string with beads and Rob cut it, “every baby should have beads” she was saying. We still hadn’t decided on a name for our boy. I gave him to Rob for a cuddle, and moved off the floor to the lounge. I complained to the midwife of having a sudden headache and began feeling faint. My vision went blurry and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The midwife and Emma tried getting me to eat and drink something but I just couldn’t be bothered. Rob called the ambo’s again. I heard them arrive but didn’t have the energy to respond. They gave me some fluids and oxygen and I started to come to life again. 2 hours after my homebirth we were off to Hospital, but that’s the beginning of a whole other story.

I have NO regrets about my homebirth. I am incredibly proud of myself and feel that I can achieve anything. I birthed a 12lb 4oz (5.56kg) baby after a 22hr labour without drugs and without tearing (thanks to the magical birth pool) after 4 previous c/sections. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get to shower at home and curl up with my new baby in my own bed.

I feel complete. I finally had the birth that every woman should be able to experience.

My body, my baby, my birth.

vbac without fear

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