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Category: Cesarean Birth

That’s Why It’s Called a Birth “Preference” Instead of a “Plan”

That’s Why It’s Called a Birth “Preference” Instead of a “Plan”

I have long-struggled to like myself. I hated my body and lacked self confidence in many areas, so finding out I was pregnant just triggered a heightened sense of anxiety for me. Finding out I was diabetic at my first OB appointment made things even worse. As the doctor rattled off the list of awful things that could result, I sat there expecting each to all happen to my baby, and they would all be my fault. I wondered if I could live with myself if I caused such pain for my beautiful growing baby – macrosomia, dislocated limbs during birth, heart and spine defects, respiratory problems… One thing I had been told from the beginning – I would be induced at 38 or 39 weeks due to an increased risk of stillbirth for infants of diabetic mothers. I strongly opposed an induction but wanted to do what was best for our baby.

As the pregnancy progressed and my education on the issues increased, I became “a model patient” (the doctors’ words). My confidence grew as quickly as my sugars and A1C decreased, and for the first time in my adult life, I was actually feeling good about myself and my body. This new-found confidence gave me the ability to try new things (like yoga, which has been life-changing!) And maybe it was my “mama bear” instincts forming, but I was blessed with a feisty courage that I had not previously known to speak up for myself. Did that cause some tension between my doctors and me? Yes. Was it worth it? YES.

At that point, if I pictured our baby’s ideal birth, it would be in a peaceful environment outside of a hospital, calm, quiet, in water, with no interventions. My husband and I took a hypnoyoga birth class and hired a doula. I talked to several midwives; however, they couldn’t deliver my baby, due to the fact that I was taking insulin. I started researching natural induction methods to encourage baby out on her own. I drank red raspberry leaf tea, walked every day, faithfully attended yoga, saw my chiropractor once a week, got acupuncture, used essential oils on acupressure points, and visualized her calm, peaceful birth every chance I had. And still, the induction date (Sunday) arrived with no sign that baby Samantha was going to come out on her own.

As we walked the short hallway to the antepartum wing, I debated escaping. But I was with my husband and his mom, and really, pregnant ladies can’t run that fast. So we checked in, got settled in our room, and I was soon disappointed to learn that I wasn’t even ripe! After three doses of Misoprostol throughout the night, Resident S (that I ended up liking the most) tried and failed to insert a Foley bulb. Also throughout the night, our amazing nurse kept coming in and apologetically asking me to shift positions. He was noticing small drops in Samantha’s heart rate during the tiniest of contractions. (I wasn’t so worried, as that was a normal occurrence from the time I started attending my NSTs twice a week for the previous 2 months.) Finally, after one more dose of Misoprostol and lots of waiting, Resident K was able to get the Foley bulb in. I was hopeful that things would start happening that day (Monday), especially since they moved us to labor & delivery.

By Monday evening, the Resident K was somewhat surprised to learn that the Foley hadn’t come out on its own. So she gave it a tug and it came out…it was Pitocin time! My stomach did some flips thinking about all the stories I’d heard about the dreaded P, but at the same time I was so excited to meet Samantha and I was really ready for things to get a move on. After 24 hours in the hospital, I’d slept about 4 hours and had felt zero contractions. Thankfully we were blessed with amazing and fun nurses, which helped to pass the time. My husband put on my favorite Harry Potter movie, a few visitors came by, and we listened in excitement as the OB on call said we’d be meeting our baby by the end of the day tomorrow.

Here’s roughly how Monday night/Tuesday morning went:

Nurse: “Did you feel that contraction?”

Me: “Nope.”

Nurse: “Let me adjust the monitors; they are slipping.”

Me: “Ok.” (Try to sleep! Try to sleep!)

3 minutes later…

Nurse: “Did you feel that contraction?”

Me: “Nope.” (Try to sleep! Try to sleep!)

Nurse: “Sorry, I need you to move onto your side…her heartrate is not quite cooperating.”

(Repeat 5,000 times.)

And so it continued throughout the night. By Tuesday morning, they had adjusted the dosage of Pitocin more times that I could count – first increasing steadily, then backing off when her heartrate would drop significantly (from the 150s to the 60s…a few times it even went down to 20!) So when Resident K came in that morning, she explained that it was time to break my waters, in the hopes that things would pick up. I still hadn’t progressed beyond the 3cm that she had measured when the Foley bulb was pulled out.

After hearing her out, I told her that I wasn’t ready for them to break my waters. I explained that I was aware of the risks and benefits and that I just didn’t think it was time. (I had hoped getting up and about during the day would help things move along and that my water would break on its own. I’d given up trying to sleep by that point.) Then the OB came in and gave an even longer, guilt-laden explanation about why it was time to break my waters. She started talking about a “failed” induction. Truthfully, I wasn’t really listening. My mind was made up. Earlier my doula had prepared me for this moment and I followed her suggestion in saying to the OB, “I understand that there are risks associated with a labor that’s not progressing, but I am not ready for you to break my water. I would like to continue as things are for now, and if my baby does become truly distressed to the point where she needs to come out immediately, I know that you are very capable of performing a successful c-section very quickly.” After looking me up and down, “Um…actually for a woman your size, a c-section isn’t that quick.” If only there were words for how I felt at that moment. The only thing I managed to say was, “No. Not now.” A few tense moments later, the OB suggested that we take a break from it all. I wasn’t discharged, but they took me off all the monitors, stopped the Pitocin, and gave us 4 hours to walk around the hospital. “Just don’t go outside; it’s wet and you might fall.” (So the first thing my husband and I did after a shower was go outside. I didn’t care that it had been snowing earlier and was freezing…the fresh air felt amazing after 2 days of being cooped up in a tiny room.)

My husband and I ate some lunch, climbed (crab-walked, jumped, lunged) 10 flights of stairs, and visited the postpartum clinic to look at cute baby stuff…and not one contraction. I was so discouraged. I’d truly hoped that my body would take over and decide to bring Samantha into the world! I lost my mucous plug, but that was it. I am so thankful for the support my husband gave me during that time – he had my back through all of this and did everything he could to get me laughing and having fun. I’ve never had so much fun climbing stairs.

Defeated, we returned to the room and I told them I was ready for them to break my water. They did, and I was back on the Pitocin. Things finally picked up. OF COURSE there was meconium in the water, so I knew that she would have to come soon! As the contractions became much stronger, I bounced on the ball, walked the halls with my husband, and stayed on my feet as much as possible. Standing was the most comfortable way for me to labor, but I knew I couldn’t keep it up forever. My mom and my husband’s mom stopped by for a visit as they had each day, and it was sometime during their visit that I realized it was getting too hard to talk during the contractions. And that’s when all sense of time left me. Was it minutes before the doula came? Hours? Not sure. My contractions were lasting 40-60 seconds and coming a minute or less apart. Sometimes there was no break between them at all. Things picked up quickly and soon I wasn’t able to stand through the contractions. My doula suggested kneeling over the back of the bed so I could rest between contractions. How long had it been since I’d slept? Probably Sunday night. I was exhausted. And these contractions were no joke! And my back…my lower back started hurting so bad. Counter-pressure on my sacrum did nothing, hip squeezes did very little. But I was able to turn inward as I’d been practicing and breathe, focus. Through the toughest moments, I could also hear Samantha’s heartrate dropping. A few times during those drops, I panicked inside and I’d lose control. I felt myself crying out or breathing too quickly. I started to feel like I couldn’t do it. Finally, I asked to get in the tub, and the hot water felt amazing. My husband faithfully knelt by, feeding me ice and refilling the leaking tub.

At some point, I fell asleep. (My husband said I was even snoring and he was so relieved that I was getting rest.)  Maybe it was only for a second, but I felt so much better. Sure, some of it was the hot water, but mostly it was because my labor had slowed down considerably. Samantha’s heart rate had continued to drop with the big contractions so they were decreasing the Pitocin drip. Meanwhile, I heard some commotion outside the bathroom – my doula was packing up our stuff! The charge nurse had decided that she wanted to close the wing we were on, as there were only 3 other patients on the floor. My husband protested, asking her if she really felt like it was right to move a woman in labor. She relented and told us we could stay. Calmly explaining the situation, my doula told me what was happening and how they had already packed up everything, but we could stay if I wanted. She also suggested that walking to the other wing might help move things along without the help of the Pitocin. That seemed appealing, so they helped me out of the tub. I remember thinking it was funny that they were trying to help me into a gown…at that point I didn’t even care what anyone in the hallway saw.

As we walked through the corridors between the two L&D floors, I stopped to squat through each contraction. By the time we were almost to our new room, I was approached by Resident S.

“Things just really aren’t moving along like we thought they would, and Samantha is in quite a bit of distress during your contractions,” she explained. As I attempted to wrap my sleep-deprived mind around what she was trying to say, I remember sinking onto the bed and asking, “If you can give me advice, what would you do?”

After a long pause, a big sigh, and a bit of a frown, she said, “Well, I think I would have a c-section.” She really knew it wasn’t what I wanted, and I trusted her that at this point it was the best option for Samantha.

It’s shocking how fast you get prepped for a c-section. It seemed like only minutes went by before I’d expressed my “demands” (drop the curtain as soon as she’s coming out, immediate skin-to-skin with me or my husband if I wasn’t able…) and asked questions about the surgery, met the anesthesiologist, and walked to the OR. My doula and husband were both with me the entire time, which was incredibly comforting. The worst part of the surgery was the uncontrollable shaking! I felt a sense of calm going into this surgery, because I knew I was going to meet our dear, sweet baby so soon.

It’s just like they described…it feels like someone’s sitting on your chest. At one point I felt nauseated, several times I felt like I was hyperventilating, and the whole time I was shaking uncontrollably. But then I heard someone say “She’s out!” and I tried to wave my useless arms around and tell the anesthesiologist to move the curtain. I desperately tried to see my baby girl being lifted into the world, but I only saw her once the doctor was carrying her over to the warming table. It felt like an eternity that they were looking her over, and I was calling out “Is she ok? Why isn’t she crying? Stop wiping her down! Just bring her over here!” My doula reassured me that it was only a minute or two, but I was just so ready to hold her! My husband cut the cord and carried her to me. At that moment, I absolutely lost it. I was sobbing, still shaking, and loving my little girl in a way that I’d never thought possible. She was 5 pounds, 14 ounces of pure, seriously adorable perfection

My husband and I had joked throughout the pregnancy that Samantha was a stubborn girl. She just wasn’t ready to come out and wasn’t going to let someone make her! Born on International Women’s Day, Samantha came out literally holding her head up, quietly observing the world around her. My prayer for our sweet girl is that she will grow up a strong woman with the confidence that I only found once I became her mother.

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Every time my husband proudly handed off the stunning visual birth plan that I’d designed and he laminated, we’d joke that it was only a birth “preference” because we know that things can’t always go as planned. It still feels like the only thing that went as planned was that our little girl was born, happy and healthy. Today, her 2 month birthday, I’m still struggling with that. And I anticipate that I will continue to struggle for quite awhile. After a bout of high blood pressure and worries of postpartum preeclampsia, extremely low milk production despite 7 weeks of my best efforts and awful-tasting supplements, complications with my incision (two pinky-finger deep holes that aren’t not healing), and postpartum depression and anxiety, I look down at the often smiling face of our sweet Samantha and know it’ll all be ok.


Photo by Tricia Croom – Doula Services.

Photo by Bella Baby Photography.

Birth experience submitted by Melissa Rogers.

From Traumatic Cesarean to Postpartum Depression {Trigger Warning}

From Traumatic Cesarean to Postpartum Depression {Trigger Warning}

(Do not read this birth story if Cesarean birth trauma will disturb you.)

My entire pregnancy was hard, I was sick the first and last trimester. I struggled with even going to work daily. I pretty much lived off of Shells and Cheese for weeks at a time. I tried it all, peppermint oil, sea band and even took medicine from my doctor.

I went into pre-term labor at 29 weeks; the physician gave me a shot to stop the contractions along with an Rx to take daily. I went in at 38 weeks and nothing had changed, my OB knew I was miserable. Caleb was head down; I was swollen and taking hot Epson salt bath every night. That day she scheduled me to be induced, told me to report to the L&D at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 30th.

I took that week off work and planned any last minute things that needed to be done as well as house cleaning. Sunday night Pat & I had a date night in and just enjoyed each other’s company. I woke up at 3 a.m. in sharp pains, I took a hot bath but nothing helped. I called the doctor and we decided to wait as long as we could. My contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart at 8 a.m. they started to be 3-5 minutes apart and we headed to the hospital.

I arrived at the hospital and I was 2 ½ cm dilated. They let me stay and decided to start the IV and Pitocin. My contractions came with full force about 10 minutes afterwards. They checked and I was 4 ½ cm and begging for my epidural, mind you I had all intentions of natural birth! I got my epidural and my contractions were so fast the slowed the medicine down. Once I got to 5 cm I stalled. The baby was healthy and happy but me not so much. My labor had come to a halt! The night was long, we tried to rest and asked for no visitors. Tuesday morning came and I had finally made it to 8 cm and 75% effaced. They had me turn on my side, put the peanut ball underneath me and had me to everything but stand on my head!

My OB came in at noon and broke my water. I begged her to take the baby then but since I had come so far and she knew how bad I wanted to try and have him we decided to keep going. At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31st I had finally reached 10 cm and 100% effaced! I started pushing! I had never been more excited in my life. It felt so good to push.

After pushing for an hour they called the OB. Caleb was crowning but face up. They tried to get him to turn and he is stubborn like his Mommy and wasn’t having it.

Around 5:30 p.m. my OB said “I don’t like this, we’re going to have to take him.”

I wasn’t scared at all; I was ready to hold my precious little boy in my arms!

Dad scrubbed up and they raced me down the hallways (have I mentioned I work at this hospital as well?). I knew everyone on my team; I was so comfortable having them all by myside.

They wheeled me into the OR and started prepping me, Pat met me in there and him and I were just talking away. I felt some pressure but nothing that I couldn’t handle; after all I had been in labor for almost 37 hours!

At 5:47 p.m. my son was born, he weighed 7lbs 15oz & 21 inches long! My husband and I both cried the first time we heard him. It was the most amazing feeling in the whole wide world. But that is where my journey had just begun.

They brought Caleb over to me and let me see him for the first time, I kissed him and the nurse said Daddy and baby would meet up with me later. I remember asking the OB if I was okay and I got no response. Next thing I knew I was waking up 6 ½ hours later in recovery!

The OB had cut my bladder during my C-Section & it had to be repaired along with me bleeding out. I woke up in recovery with a SP tube, drainage tube and foley cath. I had never been so scared in my entire life. I got to my room about 3 a.m. on Wednesday; I went into shock around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning due to blood loss and loss of electrolytes. I stayed in the hospital for a week; I did not get up out of bed until the 4th day. I received 2 units of blood, magnesium and potassium several times a day until they could get my levels up.

I had my drainage tube removed on the 4th day, foley on the 5th day. I went home with my SP tube for 6 weeks. I wasn’t allowed to pick my son up for 6 weeks. My mom came to visit for two weeks and my mother-in-law flew in from California and stayed a month with us.

I had my SP removed on March 7th and also found out that I had an issue with me left kidney due to the surgery. That’s when the postpartum depression took over. I had signs up it beforehand but thought it was just due to having the trauma of what all had happened. I had been having some blood pressure issues and sever weight loss due to being severely malnourished.

I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack to later find out it was a post-partum anxiety attack. I seen my OB the next day. Whom I must add has taken excellent care of me during all of this. It took me a few weeks to get back to “normal” and I’m still not certain I’m there yet but postpartum depression is REAL. I had heard about it before but never understood it. I was so disconnected from the world, my life, even my own son. It was scary! I look at him now and I can’t imagine that I felt so disconnected. I pray that he doesn’t remember it or felt any of it at all.

I found out on May 24th I would have to have a stent placed in my left kidney. The doctor is very hopefully this will correct the issue.

I look at my scars (pictured below & took a lot of courage) & stretch marks daily, some days I don’t want to look at them. I can’t stand for my husband to see them or touch them but he loves me, he loves them, he loves that OUR son came from all of that.
Not a day do I regret it or wish I could change it. Everything happens for a reason & God blessed us with a healthy, beautiful baby boy!

But always remember to stay strong; being a new mom is hard enough, don’t make it harder for yourself! Embarce your scars! Let your husband tell you how beautiful you are with them and your stretchmarks! You’re super woman and don’t let anyone tell you any different!

Story and photo submitted by Lorie W. 

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #8: BeardBaby’s Birth & Closed For Business!

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #8: BeardBaby’s Birth & Closed For Business!

January and Brandon tell the birth story of baby #6 aka BeardBaby! They reveal how Brandon’s newly grown beard in 2014 magically led to another pregnancy, how January received prenatal care from both midwives and an OB/GYN, and how a newborn baby can temporarily cure the flu!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Google Play!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Stitcher!

Click here to download Episode #8: BeardBaby’s Birth & Closed For Business!

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We are having a 30% sale on all “Team No Sleep” raglan shirts at Self Love Generation! We also have our classic Birth Without Fear logo T-shirts and “You Do You Boo” rainbow unicorn lanyard that Brandon loves! 

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Join January in 2017 at a Find Your Village event near you! January will be in Nashville, TN on September 23rd! Make sure to get your tickets because this is the last year January will be holding Find Your Village events!

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Rebecca shares a beautiful reflection on her c-section scarring.

I don’t actively go out of my way to look at my scar. I don’t hide its existence, but I just don’t fuss over it either. It is there, under a little flap on my tummy, hiding until I straighten myself out to peer at it in the mirror.

I didn’t always look this way. My tummy was once flat, though anyone who had only just met me in the last 4 years would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

I recently enjoyed reading some stories of old friends experiencing success in their careers, unhindered by children and able to progress to the peak of their industries. I get more time to read about these things on Facebook while I feed my 4-month old as I put her to sleep, lying on my side and stroking her hair as she drifts off.

I wouldn’t exchange her, or my son, for any success in the world; and so I can say confidently and clearly that I have only happiness for these people. There are no “what ifs” or “maybes”. There is only joy and excitement.

Are you waiting for the “But…”? It’s not there. If I learned anything from having children, it’s that comparing success is a dangerous road, which inevitably leads to hurt for one or both parties.

So I stood up tonight and actively looked at my scar for the first time after having my daughter. It’s been four months. It’s still red, and is joined by the little skin flap and array of stretch marks that appeared three years ago after having my son through the same scar.

Both of my children were born by “elective cesarean”, though to say it was an elective choice is a lie. My son was born through a cut in my stomach after 36 hours of labor with no progression. I was given the option to continue labor, but after being told the safest option was to wheel into surgery, I agreed with the doctor’s suggestion and jumped on the trolley towards the surgery room.

People like to tell you when swapping birth stories (sometimes dangerous ground to tread) that they always have a friend who pushed through 36-hour labors, and against the odds had a vaginal birth that was “the most amazing experience a person could have”. Every time I hear these stories I have to remind myself that I chose what was right for me. My son’s birth involved me lying paralyzed on a surgery table, discussing kindergarten options with the surgery nurse whose son was about to enter school. Then my body started thrashing in what I later found out was shock from blood loss. Then the doctors did some stuff, and then I held my son. Then they weighed him, and I held him again while my husband cried with joy and I just made gulping sounds of joy in a greyish state. It’s not the almighty experience that vaginal birth stories have led me to believe.

My son is now 3. He is witty, cheeky, clever and naughty. I have never been more euphoric than when we sit and talk about his day for the single minute that he can stand to sit before running off again to play or explore everything in his environment. He is simply everything and all I could ever dream he could be.

He likes my tummy. He thinks the stretch marks make an excellent road for his mini trains and seems to assume they are ‘”pretty” before he will become socially programmed to be repulsed by them (I dread the day and work with everything in my power to prevent it).

He was recently diagnosed with asthma. My friend, who loves and is loved by my children, let me in on some medical facts she learned from her midwife mama: “Did you know cesarean babies are 90% more likely to get asthma due to not getting their lungs squeezed in the birth canal?” She asked. She didn’t mean for it to hurt; and if she knew, she would have been devastated. But it’s not uncommon for people to assume you were just totally cool to have a c-section and that it was all sweet.

Did my birth decision cause my son to end up hospitalized and struggling to breathe because I chose to be wheeled into that surgery?

My daughter came out of the same scar. They reopened it for her. She was breech and I had an “incompetent pelvis” (what a name!), which made it hard for her to engage and come down the canal naturally. So again, I “chose” to get on the trolley. I “chose” to get a syringe in my spine. I “chose” to risk going into shock again and needing a blood transfusion, and I chose what was medically deemed the safest way to bring my daughter into the world with the extenuating circumstances. If the doctor said that my leg was in the way and could risk my child’s safety during childbirth, you could bet your bottom dollar I would be hopping out of that hospital with my kids.

So tonight I stared at my scar. I took a photo of it. I marveled that this little cut bought my children into the world and made my life complete. I called in my husband to look too. He said what I was thinking without me saying a word – “Can you believe you bought our children into the world through that scar? It’s one of my favorite parts of you.”

I started going to the gym. I would like my tummy to be less wide and a little flatter. No matter how many crunches, sit-ups or planks I do, those stretch marks will stay. No amount of shea oil will wipe away my scar. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, because it made my world complete.

My CBAVBAC – Cesarean Birth after VBAC

My CBAVBAC – Cesarean Birth after VBAC

The birth of my second child was shared on your blog several years ago: Long Labor Ends with Beautiful HBAC. With my home birth I really wanted to inspire other women. I wanted to show them that they are capable of having the birth that they want. This time around, I think it’s important to share that sometimes the birth you want ISN’T the birth you get – and that’s okay too. Here’s my story that talks about when VBAC doesn’t happen…

The birth of my sweet Kelsie.

Every labor is different.

How many times have I heard that sentence? How many times have I said that sentence? I thought that I understood that as well as anybody. My first two children had completely opposite births. My son was born at 36 weeks via emergency C-section and my daughter was born at almost 42 weeks, at home, after 35 hours of drug-free labor. Because of these completely different experiences, I really thought that no matter how Kelsie’s labor and birth went I would be pretty prepared.

I wasn’t.

My water broke at 4:30am on June 15th, 2015. I was 41+1 weeks pregnant. I woke up to a small gush and quickly ran to the restroom. Broken water – Check. Bloody show – Check. YES!!! It’s baby time! My water has never broken at the start of labor before, but I had dozens of dreams that it would this time around, so I really wasn’t too surprised. I went and woke up Eric and let him know that my water broke and we would be having a baby either that day or the next. I knew that it could be several hours before contractions kicked in, so I kissed my hubby, told him to let his work know that he wouldn’t be in that day and advised him that we should both try and get a bit more rest since we would probably need our energy later that day.

About a half hour later I gave up on sleep and went downstairs to make some coffee. Eric joined me and we had a light breakfast, played some cribbage, and talked about what we thought our labor would be like and how excited we were to finally meet our newest daughter. A couple hours later my two kiddos and my parents (who flew out to stay with the big kids while we were in the hospital) got up and I told everyone that I was officially in early labor. We decided to try and get the contractions started by going to Ikea to eat some breakfast and to walk the entire store. We spent over an hour and a half walking around. We left Ikea and decided to take a drive by the hospital to show my parents how to get there later. We also wanted to show them how close the hospital was to the beach, an awesome park where they could play with the kids if they needed to burn some energy, and most importantly, the closest coffee shop.

We went back to the house after and I decided to rest. A little bit later I decided to try the breast pump to see if I could get contractions going. Afterwards, my hubby and I went to a park and walked close to a mile as quickly as I was able to (which isn’t saying much). My water had now been broken for almost 12 hours. I started to get really emotional and frustrated. I decided that I must have been imagining what had happened that morning. I called my doctor, Dr. C, to give him an update and after going over our options in lengthy detail Eric and I decided to go in to the hospital to get confirmation that my water had broken.

We took our time getting our bags together and made sure to give the big kids extra hugs and kisses. I cried off and on the entire way to the hospital. I told Eric that my two best case outcomes would be that either my water had in fact broken and I wasn’t losing my mind, and even though the contractions I was having weren’t super uncomfortable I would somehow still be dilated to 6cm OR that I had completely misread the situation and my water had NOT broken.

Then we could just go home and come back a few days later to have a baby. We got checked into the hospital and were taken to our room. I got changed into the hospital gown and went and sat on the bed; my husband said I looked so scared and anxious that he decided to build my confidence by dancing for me like Ray Lewis (you can see it here…). My goofy husband was able to make me smile but I was definitely not feeling any more relaxed.

Not long after we arrived it was confirmed that my water had broken. A bit later Dr. C came in and checked me. I was dilated to 2 to 3cm on the bottom, but my cervix was still very posterior and almost cone shaped, meaning it was still closed pretty tight at the top – not at all what I had hoped for. Because I am a VBAC, we were told that we would be staying put, but that we would not be on any clock – meaning that even if my water was broken for over 24 hours as long as the baby and I were doing well we would be able to continue labor as long as we needed to. This was not at all our original plan, as we had hoped to labor at home as long as possible and only go in to the hospital once, in my doctor’s words, there was a “baby coming out of my vagina.” However, I knew there was nothing I could do about that now. Dr. C told me I needed to have a good cry about it and then I needed to get out of bed and see what I could do to get this baby coming.

So I did. I sat there and cried, trying to understand why my body didn’t want to start the process that would bring my baby into my arms. I sent Eric out to the car to grab our bags and tried to focus on the few positive things that came with being at the hospital so early. We had plenty of time to set up our music and oil diffuser and for me to spend a few minutes playing birth photographer for my own labor. I changed into the labor gown that I made and called my parents to bring my kids over for a visit. I really just wanted to hug and kiss them and needed a bit of a distraction. My family showed up soon after and I snuggled my babies and my oldest read me a bed time story.

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After they left, we called in my doula. I paced the room back and forth as far as the monitors I was hooked on to would allow. I paced and paced and paced and began to feel increasingly like a caged animal. I was so frustrated having to be attached to those stupid monitors and not feeling like I was really being given a chance to get things going. My wonderful nurse Lisa came in around this time and reminded me that no one could make me do anything that I didn’t want to do. She had to have some record of monitoring, but that if I refused there was nothing they could do. So I did. I said I needed to use the restroom for a long time and removed the monitors so that I could have at least a half hour of freedom to move about the room. I walked some more and spent some time on the birth ball. A little after 10, I got back on the monitors to try and give my poor nurse some more readings. She had been so kind to me and I didn’t want to put her in a bad position.

A few minutes later my wonderful doula Crystal arrived. She was quick to offer help in any way that I needed. She rubbed my back and shoulders and feet and prayed for me. She whispered words of encouragement and when I wanted to try and sleep she sat beside me and held that stupid monitor in place since my little lady inside insisted on kicking it off.

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Now I know that during the next several hours I had another visit from Dr. C, I cried and felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster going from completely defeated, to motivated, to crushed, to relaxed. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. We were coming up on 22 hours since my water had broken and I had slept less than ten minutes. Around 2:30 in the morning, the nurses moved me and my crew into a different room with wireless monitors. YES! But they didn’t work. NO! So we continued pacing as far as they would allow me and bouncing on the birth ball. And many times I crawled into bed hoping that rest would bring something on. My doula kept offering things that we could try. Some of them I did, others I looked at her like she was crazy.

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This pattern continued for the rest of the night and well into the morning. My big fears at this point weren’t only what would happen if my body never went into labor, but also what would happen if it did? I had been awake for going on 30 hours and I could barely put together full sentences. How was I going to push through a labor?

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I was anxious for Dr. C to come in for a visit. I really wanted a check to see if anything we had tried throughout the night had helped. He arrived a bit after 9:00am. It had been 15 hours since my last check. I tried so hard to remain hopeful, but as soon as the check started I knew.

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Before he even had the chance to say anything I looked at Eric and Crystal, shook my head no and let the tears fall. There was no change.

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No. Change. At. All.

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My heart broke. Off and on throughout the night I had thought, talked, and prayed about what to do if there was still no change the next day. I didn’t feel like I had it in me to keep going. Dr. C sat down and we started to talk about options. As far as he was concerned I had several. First, everyone looked good so I was free to continue laboring as long as I wanted. Second, we could start to talk about other ways to get this baby out. Third, I could take off the monitors, go to sleep and not decide anything at all. I had already shared with Eric and Crystal what I was thinking. I feel so strongly that babies know how to be born and I know for a fact that my body is strong and capable of birthing a baby – so in my heart I felt that if Kelsie wasn’t coming there was a reason for it. I didn’t want to make this decision based solely on exhaustion or fear so Eric and I asked Dr. C a bunch of questions and then agreed that we would all just take a break before we made any decisions.

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Dr. C left, saying that he was hoping that rest was all I needed and he hoped I woke up in active labor. I no longer felt as hopeful. Crystal left shortly after to get some rest and to allow Eric and I some time together. While Eric and I were alone I was able to be completely vulnerable and vent out everything that I was thinking and feeling. I told him that I was leaning towards a gentle cesarean, but I needed to know that he wouldn’t be disappointed in me. He hugged me close, kissed me lots and told me that no matter what choice I made he knew I was making it for the right reasons. He reminded me that I was strong and that I was a wonderful Mom just trying to take care of our baby. He told me that he was proud of me.

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He laid down to get a much deserved nap, while I laid in bed, finally free from the dreaded monitors. I tried to sleep, but wasn’t able to. I don’t think I could possibly put into words how much I battled with myself during this time. I tried to rest, but when I wasn’t able to I decided to call my munchkins and make sure that they each knew how much I loved them. Hearing their sweet voices calmed me.

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A while later Crystal returned and Eric woke up. I didn’t tell either of them what I had decided. Our nurse walked in to check on me, “What do we think?”

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My eyes filled with tears and I looked at her and answered, “I think it’s time to meet my baby.”

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Even the nurses knew that Kelsie was in charge.

At this time things started to move pretty fast. Despite the speedy pace though, I felt in control and respected, which is so different then my first cesarean. Everyone was kind and went out of their way to try and keep things as calm as possible. Eric was given his awesome new duds, Kelsie’s blanket and hat were brought into the operating room and I was introduced to the anesthesiologist that would be working with my doctor. I sat on the bed in our hospital room, trying to just remain calm and cling to the small moments of peace that I felt. As I was sitting on the bed, letting Eric put some cozy socks on my feet, I heard my phone vibrate next to me, indicating that a text message had arrived. I had mostly been ignoring all messages since we had kept the news that my water had broken very quiet. But for some reason I decided to read this message before I walked into the operating room. It was from my best friend Lisa:

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“I love you so much. You are an amazing mom and will see that sweetie soon! Enjoy as her story happens knowing that God wrote it just for her!”

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Wow. The exact words I needed to hear in the exact moment that I needed to hear them. Eric helped me out of the bed, we walked to the operating room and I kissed him and let him know I’d see him soon.

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This cesarean was so different than my first. The operating room, while busy, was not at all chaotic. Everyone let me know what was going on and what to expect next. I was treated with respect the entire time and even felt comfortable enough to make jokes. For instance, when the nurse asked someone to let Justin know that he’d be able to come in just a few minutes I calmly replied, “Actually if you don’t mind I’d rather Justin just wait outside, but if you see my husband, Eric, he’s welcome to join us.” Prep went quickly and easily and before I knew it the drape was up and Eric was sitting next to me holding my hand and waiting on our girl. Before we knew it the drape was being lowered and the anesthesiologist was lifting my back up a bit so that Eric and I could watch our daughter being born. I cried and cried. She was here. 32+ hours after my water broke – and born at the exact same minute that I was: 12:31 p.m. She was perfect and pink and loud and tiny and COVERED in meconium. I mean head to toe covered in poop. And I had only ever seen anything that beautiful two other times in my life. She was quickly looked over while Dr. C did his best to get her as much cord blood as possible, while still keeping me safe. And less than two minutes later she was in our arms. As requested she hadn’t been bathed or weighed or measured. None of that mattered.

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One of the nurses came over and helped pull my pajamas down and slide Kelsie in so that we could lay skin to skin while the surgery was completed. Eric also held her during this time and we all laughed at how much she was rooting. The anesthesiologist mentioned that he had never seen a baby with such an immediate and enthusiastic root instinct. While she was laying on me and trying so hard to find what she was looking for I said, “I’m so sorry baby. You have to wait just a few more minutes.” Her response was the most perfect, most dramatic pouty lip that you can imagine. She had Eric and I and several others in the room laughing. Before I knew it everything was done. Eric held Kelsie while I was moved from the operating table to a bed. Kelsie was again tucked in with me skin to skin and we were rolled back to our room together.

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Eric, Kelsie and I were left mostly alone for more than an hour after she was born. Everything else that needed to be done was done with her in my arms. She wasn’t measured or weighed until we requested and when I did decide to have them rinse some of the poop out of her hair, they were quick to honor my request that they only use water.

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We stayed in the hospital for two days and were blessed to be taken care of by so many wonderful nurses and one exceptional CNA. I have had a few moments where I have felt sad about the way everything went down – like when I had to sign my consent to have cesarean, because of a “failed trial of labor” (I don’t think that’s the right reason – I never went into labor and I certainly didn’t fail). But the fact is I made the best choice that I could make with the information that I had at that time. I was supported and respected in all of my choices and I felt like I was in control. I never felt bullied or pushed into anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I wanted Kelsie’s birth to be joyful. I prayed for that for the entire 10+ months that I carried her. And when I look back at her birth, I will remember laughing at her silly faces right after birth and joking with my doctor about a dream I had where I had a C-section, but in the dream he had bleached blonde backstreet boy hair and him asking someone to bring him a wig. I will remember the jokes and fun that I had with my husband and doula in the middle of the night when we were all so exhausted that we were borderline giddy.

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I will own the choices that I made during this labor and I choose not to regret any of them.

This is Kelsie’s story and I will tell it to her proudly and remember it with joy.

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Welcome to the world, Kelsie.
You are loved.
You are wanted.
You are precious.

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*** I wrote Kelsie’s birth story the week that she was born. That was over 6 months ago. One thing that I wasn’t prepared for after her birth was how hard it would be to process everything. How much I would doubt my choices. How often I would ask myself, “What if…” Not having a VBAC when you prepare for one and want one so badly is HARD. With my first child’s birth his emergency C-section was out of my hands. It was easy to be frustrated with everyone else, because I had zero control in that situation. But this time around the decision to have a cesarean was mine alone. Processing Kelsie’s birth has been hard. For over four months I obsessed over everything that had happened. What could I have done differently? How much better would it have been if I had just planned a home birth? What if I had just given myself more time? Did I give up too easily?

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The self-doubt that comes in can suffocate you and it felt like nobody really understood WHY I was upset. My baby was healthy after all and my recovery had been as easy as it could have been. Yet still, I felt like I had let myself and my daughter down. For months (and sometimes even now) I couldn’t read birth stories without feeling sad, disappointed, and even jealous of these other women achieving their drug-free vaginal births and VBACs. My sweet doula sat me down and told me, “You’re only thinking of this one way. But what about these ‘what ifs?’ What if you HADN’T had a cesarean? What if you HADN’T followed your instinct? You birthed a beautiful baby. Be kind to yourself.”

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And you know what? She was right. The decisions made that day were mine alone. I chose the decision I could live with and now, over half a year later, I truly can accept that. Her birth story is unique to her. I did the best I could do and I am so grateful that the choices I made led to a beautiful, healthy, joyful baby girl. I think that I will probably always have moments when I wonder “what if,” but I no longer feel like I failed. Kelsie’s birth story is her own. I hope that other women reading this, possibly in the same situation, will know that they aren’t alone. It’s hard when VBAC doesn’t happen. Those feelings of disappointment, sadness, and anger are real. But in the words of my favorite doula, “You birthed a beautiful baby, be kind to yourself.” ***

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Emily’s Birth Story

Emily’s Birth Story

Monday, the 15th of December, 2014 – my husband and I anxiously waited in the waiting room of the hospital for our midwife appointment. At this point, I was eight days late and we were a little anxious to meet our baby we’d waited nine long months for, anxious about the impending labor and delivery that we both had no idea about what to expect, and the idea of the afterwards, we’d have a baby to take home. What did that mean for us? How will we know what to do with her if she cries or needs something? How will we know?

The midwife called us in and asked me to make myself comfortable on the bed and my husband sat on the chair next to me. The midwife discussed what they were going to do. A stretch and sweep, and check how much I was dilated. They did this and said that I was 1cm dilated. At eight days late, with no sign of labor coming any time soon, the midwives decided with a conversation with the delivery doctor that if it didn’t happen in two days, by Wednesday the 17th of December 2014, I was to be induced and then that was it. We could go home and wait until our baby came naturally or wait until Wednesday to arrive. We were excited. We had a clear date of when we would meet her. The whole pregnancy was a question of when the baby will come, what day to expect her, guessing, researching old wives tales on the date she’ll arrive, never really knowing, but now we did. We knew then that we would meet her in just a few short days and we were excited and terrified! We immediately called my husband’s parents and told them the news. The induction was a scary thing for me, because I’d been explained that an induction can increase the risk of needing to have a cesarean and being major abdominal surgery, needing a spinal block, and the recovery afterwards with a new baby. I was scared. We didn’t tell anyone else of when she was to arrive. We wanted to keep that all to our self and have the next few days together.

Tuesday the 15th of December, we went out for lunch. We ate at a café down the road from our house and we laughed. We talked about our baby and who she might look like. We discussed her hair colour and whose eyes she’d have. We talked about names we liked and laughed about what would happen if she were a boy, having spent the last five months being told it was a girl! We watched a movie at home and just spent time together. This was, for a while, to be the last moments it was just us two. Tuesday night came and she still hadn’t arrived. The midwives explained to us on Monday that if I hadn’t gone into labour by 6am on Wednesday morning to call them and let them know we were coming to the hospital and the process of induction would begin.

So we went to bed. I don’t think either of us got a lot of sleep that night, but before we knew it the alarm had sounded. It was 5.15am and we had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital. We lay in bed awhile and said good morning to each other. We checked our phones for any calls and cuddled awhile. My husband said, “C’mon it’s time to get up, have a shower, and we’ll call the hospital.” I sat up in bed and as I did I heard and felt a “pop” sound come from inside me. I felt a slight trickle of water and said to Shaun what had happened. I stood up out of bed and felt some more water come from me. My waters had broken. Shaun said, because it was only a small amount to call the hospital and check what we should do. I called the midwives on the labour ward and explained what had happened.

I remember so clearly the midwife on the other end of the phone excitedly tell me, “Yes honey, your waters have broken, you’re gonna have a baby today.” I cried! She told me to still come in as I was now ten days overdue and I’d need to be monitored anyway. I couldn’t believe it. We had booked an induction and we were mentally ready for that to happen and then my labour had started naturally! We showered and changed and we were on our way. We dropped the dog off to our parent’s house along the way. They hugged and kissed us and wished us luck and we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl. We got to the hospital carpark at about 7am. Shaun sent a text to only his close friends telling them, “It’s go time.” They all knew exactly what that meant and they sent texts back wishing us luck and love; we walked inside.

The midwives were beautiful. They greeted us warmly and showed us to our room and we sat on the bed waiting for someone to come back in and see us. The midwives came in explained they would break my waters. They knew I had lost a little water earlier, but needed to be sure, and explained and carried out the process of the induction. They explained and carried out the beginning of the induction. They inserted an IV into my right arm. The internal examination during the braking the waters process showed I was still 1cm dilated. This was a concern, but we were optimistic that the dilation would increase with the help of the induction. They placed heart monitors on my tummy to be able to watch our baby’s heart rate as the induction process was going on. They sent the oxytocin into my blood stream and the labour was officially started. Around 9.30am I really started to feel the pain. Induction is rightly known as “0-60,” as the labour pains started immediately with barely any lead up! After a few hours of searing pain, then turning it down, semi awful pain, then turning it up it was 6pm. I sucked on the gas, I sat on a gym ball, I laid over the back of the bed, I probably stood on my head, but I just couldn’t find a position comfortable enough that I could get through the pain easily and quickly.

Shaun was amazing. He held my hand through every contraction, some minutes apart. He rubbed my back and whispered he loved me in my ear. He reminded me through every moment that he was the most amazing man I’d ever met and I was so glad we were doing this together. 6pm. The midwives did another internal examination to check how dilated I was. I was 2cm. This was obviously taking a long time. An epidural was offered to me. This was the one thing I didn’t want. The midwives explained to me that as this was taking too long. If our labour happened to speed up, by the time we got to it I would be too tired to push her out vaginally, possibly sending me into an emergency caesarean and they recommended I have the epidural so we could get some rest, hopefully relaxing my cervix and bringing on labour faster. 11.45pm and we had both fallen asleep waking to the midwives introducing us to the delivery doctor, Dr. Lee. They asked me if they could do an internal examination again to see how well the epidural had worked and to give us an idea of when she might arrive.

I was 3cm dilated. The doctor and midwives quickly decided that this wasn’t happening naturally. The baby had showed increased signs of distress, her heartrate wasn’t consistent and what they could feel from that last internal was her head wasn’t close enough to my cervix and too big for my pelvic opening and I needed to have a caesarean, immediately. By 12AM we were on our way to surgery. Shaun was given a blue gown and pants and asked to quickly change. I was scared. After the epidural I could still slightly feel the contractions in my left side and knowing that I was having this surgery with just a little “top up” I was scared that I was going to feel the pain or have to be put to sleep. We waited in the surgery waiting room, and I cried. I cried at Shaun saying how scared I was and he was so brave. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was scared because I knew if the spinal block didn’t fully take I would have to be put under local anesthetic and put to sleep were I wouldn’t be there to see your little girl come into the world. I was scared because I didn’t think I’d wake up.

After about 15 minutes I was brought into the delivery room. I went in alone so they could get me ready while Shaun waited outside. I was crying. They moved me to the surgical bed and the doctors and nurses were all busy around me getting everything ready. Shaun was let into the room and he was seated to my right, next to my head. A blue sheet was put in front of us so we didn’t see the surgery. The anesthetist topped up my spinal block and the doctor rubbed ice cubes on my legs asking me to tell him if I could feel it. I could. They waited a few more minutes and it had fully worked and they could begin the surgery. Dr. Lee talked us through the whole procedure. I was panicked and asking them to stop and they kept talking me through. “Your baby will scream and cry out for you any minute.” Shaun was doing his best to keep me calm, as was the anesthetist sitting to my left. They told me where they had cut and what they were dong next and told me she’d be here any second, and then just like that, she came earth side.emily3

Dr. Lee called out, “Baby girl born at 1.06am” The midwives called to Shaun and asked him to come over and see her and all I heard was: “She’s not breathing on her own, but that’s normal” I panicked. I was calling out to my baby and asking Shaun what was happening. The anesthetist explained that some babies born by caesarean need help to start breathing on their own and she was one of them. I didn’t hear at the time, but she started to cry a few minutes later in the surgery room. Shaun came over to me quickly and said, “She’s here; she’s okay, but we’re taking her to the neonatal ward to be sure.” I told him, “Don’t leave her side.” He assured me he wouldn’t and they both were gone.emily2

Shaun and the nurses rushed our daughter up to the neonatal ward, but on the way decided that she was okay and all came back down to the recovery to wait for me. They asked Shaun to have a seat and relax; they wrapped her up and gave her to him. He held her for the very first time. He fell in love! I was alone in the surgery room. It took approximately an hour to be stitched up and to come out of surgery. Up until this point I had not seen my daughter or her dad. I didn’t know if they were okay and I was scared. They wheeled me out of the surgery into recovery and I saw my husband sitting there. He was holding a white bundle of blankets and I asked him where our baby was and what he was holding. He said, “She’s here, come and meet our daughter.” Shaun asked me if I liked the name Emily and I said of course. Up until that point we had no idea what her name would be. We had mentioned the name Emily a few times, along with others, but never really stuck to any one name. We met her and we knew that she was an Emily.emily5

She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. He handed her to me and she laid on my chest. She cuddled into me, our skin touching. She cooed at me and cried a little and I fell in love with her. She was a part of us. She was a piece of our heart outside of our body and she was ours. 42 weeks and 20 hours later I got to hold her in my arms. She was our beautiful daughter. The longest hour of my life not knowing if she was okay, 19 hours of a really painful and scary labour, nine long months of waiting and we finally got to meet her. I knew I loved her when I found out we were pregnant, but I could never have fathomed this feeling. I was devoted to her, proud of her, and I was completely and utterly in love with her, and I had only just met her. She was here, she was finally with us and we would never be happier than we were in that moment.emily4

Together we became parents in what I can only describe as the very best moment of my life. It was a magical and intimate moment we shared together. She chose us to be her mum and dad and for that we are forever grateful.emily1

Finding Healing in a C-Section

Finding Healing in a C-Section

My story really begins with my first two babies’ births. When I was about 37 weeks, we found out our first little girl was breech. We had planned a natural birth with Hypnobabies and midwives at the best hospital in our area, so to hear she was breech was crushing. We started doing everything we could to turn her around, but she did not want to turn. The chiropractor who did our Webster technique attempts was even concerned about her because she was SO chill after every appointment. After a lot of prayer, we decided that she must have a reason and felt that a C-section would be the safest way to go. When we met with the OBGYN that would be taking over our care, he was very good, but his bedside manner was awful. We brought a birth plan to discuss with him, and he completely belittled every choice we had made for her, made me feel like an idiot to the point that I didn’t even bring my birth plan when it was time.

We scheduled the C-section, after praying about when our little girl should be born, we scheduled for a Saturday at 38 weeks 5 days, and went home to get ready. The night before, I stayed awake until 2AM, so I could eat the last time before the surgery, but wasn’t hungry so only was able to eat a few crackers before going to bed. 3:30AM. I woke up to go to the bathroom and started having contractions that were lasting one minute, spaced two minutes apart, so they were coming really hard and fast, and since my mother had experienced a 15 minute labor with me, we knew we needed to hustle to the hospital.

They checked us in, got my IV, etc. then left me alone with my husband to wait. They had me signing paperwork through contractions and I was so miserable, but then they left me alone with the monitors, and all my husband did was stare at them. I felt pretty darn alone at this point, even though my husband was right there. What felt like years later, they finally came and took me back to the OR, gave me the spinal, and brought my husband in.

As they worked, the doctor completely ignored me, but did make two funny comments: “Wow, she is REALLY breech,” (apparently she had dug into my ribs as high as she could go) and second: “We’ve got a pooper!” She started pooping as soon as her butt hit the air. She didn’t cry at first, so we didn’t even know she had been born until the nurse came and asked if my husband wanted to see our baby. I got to see her for a minute before they left, then I was alone again, surrounded by people, but no one really seemed to actually remember that the body they were stitching back together was an actual person.

I didn’t get to see her for two hours after she was born. I still don’t know why, they just had me sitting in my room while I hung out with my good friend in recovery, but they ignored my requests to see her. When I did finally see her, she wasn’t interested in feeding or anything, but we were so in love.

Over the next three days, I felt ignored and manipulated by both the doctor and the hospital staff, even going so far as telling the nurses no outright and having them completely ignore me as I cried. It was a very hard recovery for me, and anytime I talked about it I felt alone, because that was how I was made to feel from the moment we found out she was breech.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years later, and we were expecting our second little girl. This time we planned a homebirth. I refused to feel that way again, and I didn’t. My midwife made me feel cared about. She came at 42 1/2 weeks (thanks to some family drama stresses). It was a long and hard labor, but my husband was there for me the whole time, supporting me. When she was crowning, my body got a huge contraction I couldn’t get control over, which shot her completely out, causing a 4th degree tear with spider web tears. It took two hours to stitch me up, and the last ten or so stitches I was no longer numb, so I felt each and every one. On top of this, my uterus refused to contract afterwards and stop bleeding, so I spent the next several hours with the midwife’s assistant on top of me, her fist ‘massaging’ my uterus. I ended up with a slow hemorrhage, which made it so I couldn’t even walk for the first week, because I was so weak. All the complications were traumatic and I decided I couldn’t do that again. Then, on top of all of that, I developed a bad blood clot two weeks after having her, so ended up in the emergency room to clear it, and needing blood thinners for any additional pregnancies from there on.

Despite being supported, I still felt extremely traumatized from my second birth.

18 months after my 2nd was born, I got my first period (yay breastfeeding). Surprisingly though, my next period didn’t show up and we found out that I was once again pregnant. The anxiety over it was crushing, and I knew that I could not handle another vaginal birth, so we began searching for a doctor to do a gentle repeat C-section.

This pregnancy was extremely hard on me. I didn’t really get morning sickness, but I struggled with debilitating dizziness and blacking out. We ended up finding out that I was struggling with a condition where my blood would pool in my legs and cause my blood pressure to drop 30 points when I was standing so I would black out, and fall. It was very hard to be the mother to two little girls through this, but my husband stepped up to help, and we were able to manage. To add to this, however, we ended up having to sell our home and move out of state a month before baby was due.

We found an OBGYN that would take me so late in the pregnancy, and worked on getting our new home ready to meet our newest family member. Because of the previous blood clot and being on blood thinners, I was high risk, so I had to see a high risk doctor as well as my OBGYN. During the routine appointment with the high risk doctor, we found out that my platelet count was low. This was concerning, because it meant I couldn’t have a spinal or epidural. I was concerned about how this would affect my birth, scared of the idea of being asleep and missing my baby’s birth, but after praying, we again felt that this was the safest option for me for this baby’s birth. We hoped my numbers would go up, but came to terms with the possibility that we would need general anesthesia.

The big day finally came, and we went in to the hospital, got blood drawn to check platelets one last time, IV started, paperwork signed. We all held our breath, waiting for the platelet count to come back, and to meet with the anesthesiologist to see what our birth would be. When the numbers came back, it was disheartening. They had dropped from 82 to 74, risking me out of a spinal. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to us, and started trying to figure out how to tell us that he felt the general would be safest. I cut him off and told him that if he felt that was the safest option for me, that I support his decision and do it. He was really happy to hear that; he had expected a fight.

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They got me a wheel chair and wheeled my into the OR, put me on the table, and got me all prepped. Everyone was apparently in awe of me, because I was making jokes and making everyone around me laugh. I guess they expected me to be more afraid, but prayer had given me the peace I needed to know everything was going to be alright; I wasn’t scared. Finally they put the gas mask on me and I went to sleep.

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When I woke up, they were wheeling me out of the OR. They were all telling me about my little guy, how he had monkey toes and a huge head. I had to be in recovery for a little while, but the nurses kept coming and updating me on his progress, how he was doing. The anesthesiologist even came by to tell me how great everything went, made me feel like I was actually cared about. Finally I was able to go back to my room to see my baby. He latched on perfectly as soon as I had him in my arms, impressing all the nurses.

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The greatest blessing from the whole experience is I didn’t have a single nurse that pushed me to do anything. When I wasn’t well enough to start standing, they let me take my time. When my bleeding wasn’t slowing as quickly as they thought, they made sure to take extra precautions to make sure I wasn’t going to keep bleeding. They respected me and my choices for our care, listened to all my concerns. Most people wouldn’t feel empowered or healed with general anesthesia, but I was, despite not having my baby skin to skin in the OR, my choices were respected, my voice was heard.

I’m Not Sorry

I’m Not Sorry

This week, the twins turn three months old. It’s crazy…time has truly flown by! We are amazed every day at their progress, thankful for their sleeping habit improvements, and amazed that these little miracles are ours.

But, during these three months, there’s been something I’ve been debating sharing, unsure of how to put it out there without sounding offensive. But, I think it’s time…so…here goes.

To get there, I have to start with how the twins arrived. It’s something I’ve had to figure out how to come to terms with on my own, something I treasure, and something I’m asked about on a fairly regular basis.

See, when you have twins, it seems like no questions are off limits. That’s okay; I don’t mind sharing, and I used to be the one with all of these questions! One of the questions is about how they were delivered, and that’s okay!

At 37 weeks and three days, I was scheduled for an induction due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction. Basically, the babies ran out of room. I was proud as John and I marched (okay…waddled and limped) down the halls of the hospital, excited to have made it to term, and ready to meet the babies!

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We had absolutely fantastic nurses and a doctor that was completely supportive of our desire for the most natural birth possible considering twins were in the picture. One of her requests was that we have an epidural, because things can turn really rapidly with twins. We agreed to have it placed as soon as we arrived, because of platelet issues, we could have lost this opportunity if we had waited. (Note: I use “we” a lot, because John was just as much a part of this process and support as I was; this was a team effort in every sense of the word!). But, we wanted to wait to have the meds put through it. Our doctors were completely on board.

The labor was smooth and I was able to stay relaxed through it. Contractions were manageable and I was on cloud nine. When I progressed to eight centimeters, the doctor asked if we could start putting the drugs in, again, just in case. I agreed. However, we quickly found out they couldn’t push the medicine through the epidural…it was defective. So, it was removed and they placed another one, which didn’t work. At this point, it was time to move to the OR (standard for twin delivery) to push, so a natural birth it would be!

Our baby A, which we quickly found out was a boy, was delivered quickly! It was smooth and amazing; we were in love instantly! Other good news included the fact that our Baby B, which would be a girl, had flipped from breech, where she’d been the whole pregnancy, to head down. Great, we thought. She’d be here in no time!

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This is where everything took a turn. Our doctor’s face became concerned and she put an internal monitor in. See, our Ginny wasn’t moving down and we’d lost her heart beat. Things changed quickly. Our doctor remained calm and explained that there was no time to wait, we would lose the baby if she didn’t get in there and remove her fast.

Within one minute, everything was ready and the anesthesiologist was apologizing, saying she was trying to push enough drugs to make up for the fact that the epidural wasn’t functioning. Soon, from what I understand, the baby was out and I was hemorrhaging. Our natural delivery turned into a medical emergency where both of our lives were at risk. I was put under and John and the babies were sent to recovery.

It would be a few hours before I was sent down to join them and before I would be able to see the babies. Obviously this time flew by for me, but John took care of skin to skin and made sure all was well, taking all of the first pictures and spending time with our new family members!

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I don’t remember my first few hours with the babies, I don’t remember our first picture or the first time I held them, but we have precious pictures to document the experiences. They were here, they were healthy, and modern medicine and quick thinking and acting doctors saved us all, especially Ginny and I!

This is where the comments generally start and where I need to share my thoughts. Generally, when I’m asked how I delivered, I say, “One natural, one c-section” No details needed, right? The next thing I hear is almost always, “I’m sorry.”

Here’s the thing: I’m not. Was my delivery ideal? Nope. Was it what I envisioned? Nope. Was it ideal to have a regular delivery and a C-section without pain relief at the same time? No. Do I still have nightmares and need time to process it? You bet.

But. I’m. Not. Sorry.

I’m not sorry for the way I delivered my babies or the way my daughter entered this world. I don’t feel bad about it or feel regret. I don’t resent the doctors who made the best choices they could to ensure the health of my family.

I don’t understand those that compare their experiences to something horrible. I don’t understand how a wish for a natural birth could trump the desire for a safe one.

This story is something I will share with Ginny when she asks someday, with pride, because you know what? It’s her story! It’s how she chose to get here. It’s unique and it’s hers and she’ll be able to understand it, because all potential consequences of waiting were avoided. She could have suffered and she did not. She’s healthy and my hope is that she’ll be happy. So far, we are doing pretty well in that department.

I understand that doctors make decisions we don’t always agree with and that sometimes there may be other motives at play, but, in our case, there were not. The best decisions were made from the start of the day until the babies arrived.

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So, no, let me reiterate…I am not sorry. I am grateful. I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’m grateful for a doctor that let my husband stay in the room to witness our daughter’s birth and to pray over everything that was happening, even in the midst of chaos. I’m grateful that I get to hold my healthy babies each day.

This story brought them to us, it’s a part of our family now, and I choose to see it as a happy one.

How can I be sorry for that?

Originally published on Take Two Blog.

I Am Strong {Emily Weber}

I Am Strong {Emily Weber}

I am strong because at the age of 19, my husband and I became pregnant with our first child.

I am strong because at our first ultrasound we were told that our son would be born with “myelomeningocele”. The most common and most severe form of Spina Bifida.

I am strong because on July 05, 2011, I went in for a c-section. Jonah was born at 12:32pm with Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus, bilateral club feet and Chiari Malformation II.

I am strong because two years later we decided to try for another child, even though the chances of this baby being born with Spina Bifida were even higher than the first time. I am strong because I went through an emotional battle with myself when we found out our daughter did NOT have Spina Bifida.

I am strong because even though I had a c-section the first time, I knew I needed to go for a VBAC for the quick recovery. Our son needed me to carry him and take him to his therapies.

I am strong because I went in for my VBAC January 1st.

I am strong because I was induced with Pitocin, even though it was much against my birth plan. I am strong because I was given foley bulbs to help the process, which was also much against my birth plan. I am strong because after 32 hours of labor, I decided to get an epidural even though it was against my birth plan. I am strong because after two “failed” epidurals, the pain was excruciating. I am strong because even though I was dilated to a 7, I knew something was wrong and I needed a repeat c-section.

I am strong because I went in for my c-section around 6pm, and I woke up around 10pm that night. I knew something had happened. I am strong because I listened to my body and had my c-section just in time to save my baby and me.

I am strong because my uterus had ruptured.

I am strong because after my surgery, I spent the night having nightmares of my daughter Genevieve crying, and I could not get to her. I am strong because I finally decided to take a sleeping pill, and ease some of my emotional pain.

I am strong because I spent the next few days in the hospital, in terrible pain, with a surgical drain attached to my c-section scar, all while waiting to find out if I would need a hysterectomy.

I am strong because at the age of 22, I was told I could not have any more children without risking mine, and my unborn child’s life.

I am strong because I could not lift my son. I am strong because I had to watch him fall down and get back up without my help.

I am strong because just two weeks after Genevieve was born, I was in the same hospital again for two surgeries to remove my gall bladder. I am strong because I fell into a dark depression during this time, and I never let anyone know of my struggle. I am strong because even though I felt emotionally and physically drained, I continued to produce the milk my daughter needed.

I am strong because I continue to have those same nightmares of my daughter crying and I cannot get to her.

I am strong because even though one doctor told me not to try again, I am looking for another specialist to get a second opinion. And I will get a third, fourth, and fifth opinion if I have to.

I am strong because even though both my c-sections were traumatic, I cannot forget how alive and strong I felt during my labor with my daughter.

I am strong because if it is God’s will…we will try again.

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