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Category: Pregnancy

Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum

We often share photos of women, moments after birth, with their eyes wide and full of excitement and joy as they process this new life that they have brought into the world. For nine months their bodies spent creating this miracle; then there is birth – and regardless of how a woman gives birth, there’s always a bit of fear and anxiety mixed with the excitement of meeting this gift your body has worked so hard for. But sometimes, birth is neither the hardest nor the scariest part of the journey. Sometimes it’s the beginning.

We were happily surprised when we found out that I was pregnant with our third child in February of 2013. I loved being pregnant with my first two; and for the most part, they were smooth, non-complicated pregnancies. But at about 6 weeks along, our lives were turned upside down. Everyone told me that I was just experiencing a bad case of morning sickness; but what I didn’t know is that sometimes it’s NOT just morning sickness.

Sometimes it means not being able to keep down even a sip of water the whole day – not being able to eat even a bite for days at a time – not being able to acknowledge the other children that are begging for your attention. Sometimes it means falling into such a deep depression that you become scared of where your mind and thoughts find themselves. You question your sanity, ability and purpose in life.

In just a few weeks, you find that your clothes don’t fit and you don’t recognize the person in the mirror. You lose an unhealthy amount of weight (21 lbs in my case) in a very short period of time. You throw up so severely and so often that you burst every blood vessel under your eyes. Your normally tidy house becomes a place of shame; the laundry piles up, and your husband is forced into taking your place while you are permanently situated in the same place on the couch and in the same clothes for days at a time.

You convince yourself that you are dying.

This is NOT morning sickness. This is someone’s life being thrown upside down for months. Because it is something that we rarely hear about or talk about, it left me feeling like there was something wrong with me or that maybe I was just being a big baby and this was all normal (until my doctors informed that it was not). I was fortunate to find relief half way through my pregnancy; and that is when Marisa Pellerin Photography caught this picture of me. I barely recognized my body or myself at that point, but seeing this beautiful picture with the sun peeking through gave me hope after some of my darkest days. Pregnancy can be hard but even then, it sure is beautiful.

I hope that by sharing this, we can help those we love in the future and bring some awareness to Hypermesis Gravidarum. Pregnancy is beautiful, but it’s not always easy.

Photograph by Marisa Pellerin Photography.

Surviving a Tubal Pregnancy: A Story of Hope

Surviving a Tubal Pregnancy: A Story of Hope

Disclaimer: A tubal/ectopic pregnancy carries serious risks. This is one woman’s experience and is a rare outcome. Nothing shared here replaces medical advice or reflects any other woman’s experiences or needs or outcomes.

I wanted to be a mother from as far back as I can remember. But I suffered from an eating disorder and as such, I had irregular periods, sometimes going as long as nine months without one. I knew if I was not having periods I was not ovulating and could not get pregnant so my husband and I decided to start trying as soon as we got married in hopes of eventually conceiving. We had been trying to get pregnant for months and had basically given up and decided to wait.

Then one morning when I was laying in the bath, I looked down at my stomach and something inside me knew I was pregnant. I bought a test without telling my husband and while he was at work I took it. I sat there for what seemed like hours waiting for those faint pink lines to appear. As my heart was thumping I looked down and just about fell off the toilet as I saw two pink lines. I didn’t know if I should believe it, I was shocked surprised and excited all at the same time. In a daze with tears in my eyes I got in my car and rushed to my husband’s work.

On the way I called and told him I had something to show him and told him to meet me outside. I arrived and he jumped into my car thinking I was just there for a normal visit but to his shock I pulled out the test and showed it to him. He stared at it for about five minutes and finally stuttered out, “So does that mean we’re pregnant?” Teary eyed we hugged with the excitement of knowing our lives were about to change forever.

I went home and took four more tests all confirming our good news but I decided to see a doctor to confirm. We showed up at the doctor’s office expecting him to say yep, you’re pregnant, take care of yourself, but that was not at all what we heard. They of course took a pregnancy test and it came back positive but when it came time for the exam the doctor got very quiet. Knowing nothing could be wrong I asked him anyway and very quietly he answered, “Your uterus does not appear pregnant.”

I didn’t understand and thought it was some fluke so I didn’t really pay much attention but he sent me right down to have an ultrasound. I quietly lay on the table waiting to see an image of my baby – I was actually excited. The tech turned on the monitor and slowly began checking my uterus. She had the monitor on for at least 10 minutes and I patiently waited for her to say look there’s your baby, but nothing happened. She turned the monitor off and said, “I couldn’t find anything. It doesn’t appear you are pregnant.”

My heart sank; they sent me into the waiting room where I waited for half an hour until the radiographer came in. He told me that they could not find a fetus in my uterus but actually found a lump in my tube, and they thought my baby was growing in my tube. I went home still confused but sure they had made a mistake. The next day I went to a specialist. They did another ultrasound and still couldn’t see a fetus but the lump in my tube had grown.

Above, my empty uterus at almost five weeks pregnant. Below, the ultrasound report with names removed:

[…] Clinic, P.S. 400 East […]th Avenue Spokane, Washington 99220 PATIENT NAME: […] DIANA B DOB: 10/29/1984 EXAM DATE: 3/31/2008 15:57 REFERRING DOCTOR: MICHAEL […] M.D. PROCEDURE: PELVIC ULTRASOUND INDICATIONS: Pelvic pain. Positive pregnancy test. TECHNIQUE: Transabdominal scans were obtained followed by transvaginal scans for better visualization. FINDINGS: The uterus measures approximately 8.8 x 4.4 x 5.9 cm. The endometrium is moderately thickened and the endometrial cavity is empty and no gestational sac is identified. In the left adnexa, there is a complete cystic/solid mass measuring approximately 3.3 x 2.2 x 2.4 cm. It is minimally hypervascular around the margins. This is adjacent to a relatively normal appearing left ovary and this is suspicious for an ectopic pregnancy, although an unusual hemorrhagic cyst could have a similar appearance, although I think this is less likely. Correlation with HCG levels would be helpful. The right ovary is well visualized and appears normal. There is a small amount of free intraperitoneal fluid visualized in the cul-de-sac. CONCLUSION: Complex left adnexal mass adjacent to the left ovary. In a patient with a positive pregnancy test, this is suspicious for an ectopic pregnancy. The uterus is empty. Correlation with HCG levels would be helpful. There is only a small amount of free intraperitoneal fluid in the cul-de-sac. Dictated by: Thomas […] M.D. on 3/31/2008 at 16:41 Transcribed by: PRATT on 3/31/2008 at 15:50 Approved by: Thomas […], M.D. on 3/31/2008 at 16:54

The doctor then came in and very sharply said, “Diana, it appears that you have a tubal pregnancy with about three and a half centimeters of clot and bleeding in your tube and if we do not get it out immediately your tube could burst and it could kill you.” I looked at him with tears welling in my eyes and said, “Are you telling me I have to abort my baby?” As the words came out my whole body began shaking and tears were now streaming from my eyes.

He looked back at me and almost coldly said these words that still to this day ring in my ears, “Diana, you need to stop thinking of this as a baby, this is not a baby nor will it ever be one.” My heart broke and I began sobbing as the doctor continued to tell me he wanted to hook me up to an IV that would send a cancer drug into my body and as he put it allow the ‘egg’ to leave my body. He acted like it would be quick and painless, no big deal. I knew in my heart I couldn’t do it and told him I needed more time.

He thought I was crazy and became angry at me for putting my life in danger.  My husband drove me home and I curled up into a ball on the couch and sobbed for hours. This was my child, my amazing beautiful child I had waited for, and they were telling me I had to kill it. I was mad at myself, mad at God, mad at everyone. After a few hours I looked at my husband as he held me and said, “Honey, do you think the baby is in my tube?” and he sent chills down my spine as he responded, “Yes.”

Hysterically I kept running through my mind trying to figure out how to save my baby, thinking maybe if we leave him alone he could actually grow in my tube. I soon realized the only one who could save my baby was God. I asked my mom to drive us to the healing rooms and she quickly took us there. Once inside they took us to a room with three people waiting to pray over us. I was bawling as they all gathered around me and hands touching my stomach, began to pray. My body suddenly became warm and a sense of calmness spread through me. I could see my baby and I saw him in God’s hands.

At the same time my husband said he felt someone touching his shoulder and at that moment he knew everything was going to be okay. As I left they told me God had my baby and not to allow the doctors to do anything for a few days. I called the doctor and told them I needed until Friday to make a decision. They were not happy but complied. For the next three days I lived in a black hole. In my heart I think I knew God was going to save my baby but my body was terrified. I was afraid at any second my tube would burst, killing not only my baby but also myself. But most of all I was afraid that I would go to the doctor on Friday and THEY would kill my baby.

I lived in darkness for those three days (literally): sleeping, crying, and praying (begging) God to save my child. Some may not believe this but Thursday, as I lay there immersed in darkness praying to God to save my child, I saw a vision of my baby again in God’s hands but this time I saw them in my womb. God said, “I have your child” and gently lifted him up and placed him in my uterus. Crying and not sure if I was imagining, I called my mom and told her what I saw.

She said, “Diana, everything is going to be okay. I saw your baby and it is a boy and he is okay.” I hung up and fell asleep waiting for the morning. I was awoken the next morning by a phone call; it was the doctor’s office. The nurse on the line told me the doctor was allowing me to have another ultrasound but immediately after wanted me in the emergency room to administer the drug. They were ready to kill my child without a second thought.

We all drove to the hospital in silence; I think all expecting the worst. Again my heart knew it would be okay but my brain knew there was no baby in my uterus; once again I lay on the table and the tech began scanning my uterus. My heart began sinking further and further as I watched the screen and squeezed my husband’s hand. In my mind I kept imagining them strapping me to a table and taking my child from my body. It was agonizing.

All of a sudden the tech said, “Look, there’s your baby.” I thought she was joking and I looked at her not even able to cry because I couldn’t believe her. She pointed to the screen and said, “Look, it’s a perfectly healthy egg with a yolk sac. The fetus is 5 weeks old.” I got up from the table and my husband and I walked into the waiting room in shock. As we entered the room I looked at my mom and quietly said, “They found him.”

She screamed in the middle of the hospital and with everyone staring picked me up crying and screaming. It was honestly the most amazing moment of my life and I cannot even describe how it felt. Immediately the doctor called and said, “It’s a miracle because three days ago I would have sworn that baby was in your tube and today it is in your uterus and the bleeding in your tube is gone.” That was about all he said and then he hung up.

To this day I know the doctor was right, I know my son was in my tube and I know the only reason he is here today is because of God. I put his life in God’s hands and believed that what needed to happen would and God gave me the most precious blessing. Every time I look at my son I see God and I am thankful for what He did for my family, what He did for my son, and what He did for every person that prayed for my son and was touched by this Miracle. I want to take my son to that doctor and say, “See what you almost killed.” My son is a Miracle and I will never forget it.

Don’t underestimate what God can do if you believe, and don’t always listen to your doctor. If I did, my son would not be here today.  You can follow Diana’s journey at www.pcospains.blogspot.com

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.

At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.

I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.

Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.

So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?

Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.

  • Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
  • Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
  • Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.

There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:

Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.

  • Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
  • Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
  • Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
  • When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
  • Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
  • Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
  • Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
  • Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one.  Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
  • If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!

A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.

The Kowalli Joey Jacket {Review}

The Kowalli Joey Jacket {Review}

We recently had the pleasure of checking out this brand new jacket designed specifically for all stages of motherhood. What we discovered is the Kowalli Joey Jacket does have some unique features unlike other pieces of outerwear you may have tried or looked into.

You are able to wear it starting in pregnancy as a maternity jacket. It then converts to babywearing outerwear that allows baby to keep warm and close in any front carrier, sling, or wrap. This would be especially helpful in winter months with a baby! Instead of draping a blanket over baby, both mom and baby can stay warm.

Snap closures and elastic cording allow the jacket to be adjusted to fit your post-baby body while pockets and hood (that can be hidden or used) give a practical solutions for wearing out and about. Plus, let’s be real… snaps and elastic are great for new moms!

A few other things we love about The Joey Jacket is it is made in the USA, and it can be dressed up or down.

One thing to take note of is it is new and comes in sizes small, medium, and large. Larger sizes to come!

maternity kowalli jacket
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I Am Strong – Enduring 30-Plus Hours of Full Blown Labor

I Am Strong – Enduring 30-Plus Hours of Full Blown Labor

I am strong because when I was in labor, I was in back labor for nine hours and wasn’t progressing so I had to go home.

I am strong because after laboring another 10 hours at home I went to the doctor to get checked and was in full blown labor but only dilated to 3 cm.

I am strong because I did not want an epidural, but more than that, I didn’t want a c-section so I got the epidural to help my body relax and dilate better.

I am strong because I had been up over 24 hours in labor and got the epidural, but because everything was going wrong and they were checking on me every 30 minutes, I never slept.

I am strong because after laboring a full day I wasn’t past 6 cm and had to receive pitocin, which was not in my birth plan.

I am strong because when my temperature spiked, I was given on a nonrebreather face mask to help with my babies decelerations and managed to stay calm.

I am strong because my epidural stopped working when it became time to push at 30+ plus hours, and I had all back labor with the baby posterior.

I am strong because I pushed for three hours to avoid putting my baby through a c-section.

I am strong because I still have sad feelings about getting an epidural and pitocin but look at my healthy baby I know it was all for her.

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I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I am strong because three months after my husband and I got married, we found out we were pregnant, and at 12 weeks, we lost the baby.

I am strong because after three months of waiting to try again, we found out we were pregnant for the second time, but at six weeks, I miscarried again.

I am strong because that very next month, I got pregnant for the third time. My doctor put me on progesterone supplements to help prevent another miscarriage, and soon we had a healthy, growing baby.

I am strong because on New Year’s Eve, I went in to be induced, and after only a few hours, my doctor told me I needed a c-section. She said my pelvis was too small and that I would never be able to give birth vaginally. Not knowing much about birth at all, and being totally unprepared, I had a c-section, and our beautiful son was born a few hours before midnight.

I am strong because even though I was in excruciating pain from the surgery, I continued to breastfeed my son and refused to give him formula.

I am strong because at 2 weeks old, my son’s pediatrician said that he was too small and told me to start supplementing with formula. Not knowing much, and being a scared first time mom, I listened.

I am strong because even though I supplemented, I kept nursing as much as I could. I started researching everything I could about breastfeeding and how to up my supply. I bought an SNS to help wean him off formula so that he could nurse exclusively again. I was prescribed medication to help increase my supply.

I am strong because when my son was a month old, I developed double mastitis, was put on antibiotics and was in so much pain, but I still continued to nurse.

I am strong because twice a week, I had to take my son to the pediatrician to have weight checks, and every time, I just heard about how small he was, until finally, his pediatrician said that my milk wasn’t good enough, didn’t have enough calories, and that I needed to stop nursing. Without running any tests, she decided that my milk wasn’t suitable for him.

I am strong because I went home that day and refused to stop nursing. I knew my son was fine and that he was growing like he should. I started looking for new pediatricians who would be supportive of my desire to nurse.

I am strong because when my son was 2 months old, I found a new pediatrician and canceled my appointment with the previous pediatrician.

I am strong because the next day, Child Protective Services came to my house and took my 2 month old away from me. I could do nothing but watch them take my baby. They said that we were an immediate danger to our son and that we were neglecting him because he was so small.

I am strong because CPS never told us where they were taking our son. We found out later that night that he was admitted to a hospital, but we weren’t allowed to know which one, or if he was okay.

I am strong because over 24 hours after they took our son, they called and told us to come to the hospital where he was, and that they had kept him overnight to run tests on him. They found nothing wrong, and encouraged me to keep nursing. They said that the previous pediatrician had called and said that we were starving our son, and that he was in danger with us. The hospital said that they would be reporting the pediatrician for lying to CPS and causing us so much distress.

I am strong because the hospital offered to test my milk and they found that I was producing an average of 60 calories per ounce! Way above average! I continued to nurse my son, and used donor milk from a friend to eventually wean him off formula.

I am strong because when my son was 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. Another boy!

I am strong because at my first prenatal appointment, my OB told me to not even consider a VBAC because I would never be able to do one, I was “too small.” She encouraged me to schedule my repeat c-section that day.

I am strong because shortly after I found out I was pregnant, my husband got orders to move to South Korea. We decided to move there with him and I would give birth there.

I am strong because even though my milk had almost dried up from being pregnant, I continued to nurse until my son’s 1st birthday!

I am strong because I started researching VBACs. I got my operation report from my previous OB and learned that the c-section was unnecessary, and that I COULD give birth vaginally if I wanted to! I immediately told my new OB that I wanted to try. I hired a birth doula to help me through the process.

I am strong because at 41 weeks, my doctor said that he had to induce me (per hospital policy) or give me a repeat c-section. Because this was the only military hospital in Korea, I didn’t have a lot of options. I chose the induction.

I am strong because even though I was in immense pain from the pitocin, I went eight hours without any pain medication. six hours later, I gave birth via successful VBAC to my second son!

I am strong because in the birth canal, he had swallowed meconium, and I wasn’t able to hold him until he was over 45 minutes old.

I am strong because I still haven’t been the first to hold either of my babies.

I am strong because my second son has never had anything but MY breastmilk! He is now 16 months old and still nurses four times a day, and yes, he is just as small. We just have small babies!

I am strong because I knew my mothering instincts were right and I protected my right to nurse, and my right to have the birth I wanted, even when I was told I’d never give birth that way.

I am strong because I was so inspired by my birth and my experiences, that I decided to become a labor Doula and am planning my next birth (not pregnant yet!) to be at a birthing center.

I am strong because even though I have never shared this story publicly, I am ready to help someone else out through my experiences.

I am strong because it has taken me years to trust people and doctor’s, but I am slowly starting to trust my children with other people, and to have faith in doctor’s again. I am slowly letting go of the past and looking to the future.

I am strong because I am FREE.

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Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

I am Strong because I waited until the age of 32 to have my first child.

I am Strong because I saw our would-be son one day looking up at me holding onto the knee of the man who became the love of my life at the age of 28. Dream became Reality.

I am Strong because as the youngest of my home growing up, and the youngest in our family’s generation, I was not around young children much, so everything was new and exciting/frightening.

I am Strong because my husband made it home from his last deployment for the Army in 2010, and we made the happy decision to try and start a family.

I am Strong because five weeks into trying, the hubby and I went to the ER due to me having severe abdominal cramps. We found out after eight hours of waiting that we were less than 48 hours pregnant and in danger of losing the baby.

I am Strong because we also made the decision to do what it took to have me become a Stay-At-Home Mom; the call and eventual resignation from being in Property Management for almost a decade was bitter and sweet.

I am Strong because my pregnancy was filled with obstacles and unknowns, from start to finish.

I am Strong because our pregnancy took, and I was able to carry full term.

I am Strong because when we moved from Texas to Virginia, our insurance was suspended due to an employee’s typo, and we were forced to go without insurance for over 4.5 months of the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we had to ask a local 4D ultrasound locale for a session to find out how many and what we were having during the middle of the insurance nightmare.

I am Strong because our sweet baby boy blew a kiss to us on the ultrasound, one of at least three prior dreams that have become reality. (The DVD shows this amazing gift)

I am Strong because the pregnancy was high-risk from start to finish.

I am Strong because the natural hormonal surges that occur in pregnancy were so great that my hip and shoulder joints were prone to dislocation, making it hard to walk, sit, lift anything, or be comfortable.

I am Strong because despite all my efforts to consume the healthiest of things – the only true craving I ever had was for beer, not a winning scenario as it went unsatisfied – I gained over 50 pounds during the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we made a birth plan, but due to complications with my joints, had to settle for induction/possible csection as a backup.

I am Strong because at 41 weeks, I began having contractions. They lasted an entire week, but to no avail as I did not dilate.

I am Strong because we went into the hospital to be induced, only to have the first induction fail.

I am Strong because after the second induction was administered, my joints could no longer handle the hormonal surge and my right hip dislocated, causing me excruciating pain.

I am Strong because I was scared to death of having an epidural but made the decision to do so as my cervix was still not cooperative.

I am Strong because I had two extremely intense contractions during the administering of the epidural, but managed to stay still enough with the help of my husband so as to not incur any nerve damage.

I am Strong because the only progress the epidural produced was my water breaking.

I am Strong because after 72 hours from being admitted, our son’s heart rate began dropping with contractions. It was decided a csection was eminent.

I am Strong because I sang hymns while being rolled into the OR, strapped to the table, to calm my nerves.

I am Strong because it took over five rounds of pain blockers to get my body to cooperate to have the procedure.

I am Strong because upon delivery, it was discovered our dear son had the cord wrapped around his neck twice.

I am Strong because after being wheeled into the recovery room while our son went to be tested/weighed, the nurses had turned the television on in the room.

I am Strong because our son was born the morning of the tsunami in Japan, March 11, 2011.

I am Strong because I felt at the same time immense joy for his new life, and ultimate sorrow for the tens of thousands of lives who were washed from this earth that fateful day.

I am Strong because we finally had a healthy baby boy!

I am Strong because I found out through two sessions with a domineering and condescending lactation specialist that I had inverted nipples and would eventually not be able to produce enough breastmilk to meet our son’s needs. I was not able to experience the deep bond with our son that so many others are blessed to have.

I am Strong because I left the hospital weighing more than I did while pregnant due to the amount of fluids and medications administered during these events.

I am Strong because the first week of having our son home also involved suffering through a reaction and withdrawal from a medicine the nurses gave me that I had previously admitted being allergic to on top of recovering from the surgery.

I am Strong because though our son was healthy, we noticed him having consistent tummy troubles. At the age of 2, he began having the same symptoms I have experienced as an adult with IBS, but at such a young age.

I am Strong because we had many trips to the doctor and even the ER but to no finite clarity on how to help our sweet boy.

I am Strong because our son suffered open sores for seven months during this ordeal.

I am Strong because I made the decision to attempt fixing his troubles through an elimination diet. It took over a year to find the source of the problem, mainly being all grains, but within a week of a completely benign diet, his sores healed and we began to enjoy watching him be a little boy with no more pain, only joy and curiosity.

I am Strong because our family is now on a modified paleo – low FODMAP lifestyle, with all of us having seen significant improvement in our health.

I am Strong because I only discovered Birth Without Fear through an acquaintance’s chance post on Facebook.

I am Strong because I wept with grief and relief to see how not alone I am in this world of traumatic births.

I am Strong because I’ve been able to lose all the weight I had gained and be more healthy now than ever before.

I am Strong because my Husband never left my side, from start to finish. He is my Rock, and I will Love him until my last breath.

I am Strong because we want a daughter.

I am Strong because we may not be able to have any other children.

I am Strong because I rejoice in the glorious secret world that is our happy home with my husband and son.

I am Strong.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Husbands, Wives, Mothers and Fathers:

We are STRONG.

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From the Grocery Story to Unassisted Home Birth in 15 Minutes

From the Grocery Story to Unassisted Home Birth in 15 Minutes

My daughter, Aisha Skye, was born on the 19th of February 2013 weighing in at 8 lbs 11 oz, after an unexpected homebirth.

I had my first daughter, Avalon, two years previously at our local hospital. She was born naturally after a few complications and six hours of active labour and pushing.

I was expecting a similar delivery as my first daughter so I was ready to be “in it for the long haul.” I was in “active” labour with Aisha for a total of two hours. My contractions were never closer than 15 minutes together. I spent most of it in my Mother’s spa bath. I was actually in Woolworths 15 minutes before Aisha was born, getting “supplies ” (reading material, snacks, etc.).

I returned back to Mum’s and jumped straight in the bath after almost pooping my pants in Woolworths. After calling for my sister and Mum and telling them that I needed to poo (while in the bath) they got me out. They placed me on the toilet where I felt my daughters head. Literally seconds passed and my waters popped on the toilet. My sister pulled me up off the toilet. I then placed one leg on the step of the bath and after one push my daughter Aisha was born. My Mum literally had to dive between my legs to catch her. We don’t know the exact time but we guess she was born around 8.23 pm.

The ambulance was called and we were taken to our local hospital. Aisha spent eight days in SCN as she has complications with her breathing and a few other issues. She is now a beautiful 6 month old. We still have a few issues regarding her breathing but she is a trooper and never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with all Mothers and families alike.

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One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

Let me rewind a little bit…At 37 weeks, we found out via ultrasound that Everett was frank breech. We tried everything we could to turn him. Everything was totally unsuccessful in turning him. He was stubborn and comfortable in his breech position.

Typically, a breech baby these days means a c-section. But I was being told by my midwives that I was THE perfect candidate to attempt a vaginal breech delivery…if I could find an experienced doctor willing to do it. Immediately after that 37 week ultrasound, I started calling every OB in our city (we live in a big city). After dozens of phone calls and lots of No’s, I found someone willing to meet with me to discuss it. We met and after a thorough health history discussion and an extensive examination, we all decided I was a good candidate and we’d do a trial of labor and see how things went.

However, delivering with an OB in a hospital setting meant having to compromise on some things that I wanted. In the mean time we tried everything we could to get him to flip. I saw a chiropractor who used the Webster technique. I saw an acupuncturist for moxibustion acupuncture. I did the spinning babies protocols at home. I shined a bright flash light on my lower belly multiple times a day. I took a homeopathic supplement that’s supposed to encourage flipping. I drank 100+ ounces of water a day to up my amniotic fluid levels, hoping to give him more room to move. And last of all, we tried an EVC (External Cephalic Version).

Then about 39 weeks, the priority went from turning him to encouraging labor to come on it’s own since inductions are not allowed with a breech. My doctor was scheduled to leave the country on September 3rd, so we had a scheduled c-section for September 1st. If he wasn’t here to deliver, I’d end up with a cesarean anyway. I had a deadline for getting this baby out naturally!I had contractions on and off starting around 38.5 weeks, but nothing stuck around (much like my pregnancy with #2). On Thursday September 28th at 39 weeks 3 days, I saw my doc and he did an internal exam to check for dilation. I was 3-4cm but not very effaced. Baby was engaged in my pelvis, but we think not having the pressure of his head on my cervix probably kept me from thinning out like I normally would.

I had some crampy contractions after the internal check (which was at 4pm), but I figured my cervix was just irritated, and they’d go away. We went for a long walk after my appointment to try to get things moving. By 7pm I was still feeling them and they were definitely painful. In the back of my mind I knew they were the real thing, but I didn’t want to jump the gun. I took a long shower after the kids went to bed, did some cleaning, and a little laundry.

By 11pm they were spacing out quite a bit to just a few an hour but still pretty painful. We decided to go to bed and get some sleep. I said a prayer and asked the little boy in my belly to allow me at least a few hours of sleep. But I kind of knew that wouldn’t happen. When had he cooperated up to that point?! I maybe slept 30 minutes before a hard contraction woke me up. Then maybe another 20 minutes and another 15 before I gave up and couldn’t stand to be laying down any longer.

I grabbed my phone and sat up in bed timing them and trying to distract myself from the slight anxiety that started to creep in. Around 2am I decided I was truly in labor with contractions 7ish minutes apart and it was time to pack the last minute stuff and wake up my husband, Corey. I let him know what was going on and decided to take another shower because I was having terrible back labor and the water on my back sounded nice.

I paged my midwife at 2:15am, and she thought it would be a good idea to come to the house and do an internal exam and see where I was at. We called Corey’s mom to come over and sleep on the couch until the girls woke up. I started to get a little nervous that it was a false alarm because my labor pattern was so weird and different from anything I’d experienced before (strong contractions further apart with multiple small ones in between). By the time both of them were here, my midwife determined I was 6cm and my water was bulging. And as soon as everyone arrived, my contractions were picking up in frequency and intensity, so we decided to head to the hospital since my labors move fast. By the time we got there and got into a room, it was almost 4am.

Despite my history of quickly progressing labors and the fact that I was once again GBS positive and needed antibiotics, the L&D nurse completely ignored me. She got me in a room, asked me for a urine sample, and left. We didn’t see her again for 45 minutes (she was too busy chatting with the ladies outside). And she only came into the room at that point because my water had broken and I still didn’t have an IV line inserted, and I was definitely going through transition.

I was incredulous when she told me I had to SIT in the bed while they monitored my and baby’s vitals for 20 straight minutes to make sure he was tolerating labor well before I could go ahead with a breech delivery. HELLO!! Why didn’t she tell me that and get that going the second I got in there?!?! Now I had to sit there for TWENTY a minutes while going through TRANSITION????? I was ready to scream and bite her head off and I made sure she knew I was pissed.

She then proceeded to try to get an IV going. The first time she couldn’t get the vein. The second spot she tried my vein blew and there was blood gushing and dripping down my arm. If I had not been in terrible labor pain and distracted as a result, I’d have definitely passed out. Then she stuck me a THIRD time and was only able to get the needle in half way, but it was enough to get stuff in me so she left it. She was very vocal about how long it took to get a vein since I refused to let her stab me during a contraction (which were coming every 90ish seconds at that point). It was clear early on that this lady and I were not going to get along. I was just SO glad my midwife was there to support me, help me stay sane, and be a mediator between me and this awful nurse.

By the time she had me hooked up, she said if they didn’t get me moved to a delivery room ASAP I might end up having the baby right there. But due to the intensity and frequency of my contractions, it took me 15ish minutes to even get out of the bed and into a wheel chair for her to move me. Which she was clearly annoyed by and also very vocal about. Once I got to a delivery room they were prepped and ready to go. My doc checked me and I was 10 cm, but had a lip on my cervix still and was told I could NOT push yet. Because he was bottom first, it was very important to be fully effaced so we didn’t risk head entrapment.

I had THE worst back labor I have ever had. The level of pain I was experiencing (I assume because of his position) was in another realm from what I’d experienced with either of my girls. I wasn’t able to labor in water because I was so close, and a water birth was out of the question this time around. I started to lose my cool in a way I’ve never done before in labor. And then I was involuntarily pushing and could not stop. They checked me again but I still had a lip and wasn’t supposed to be pushing.

It was at that point that I did something I never thought I’d do, I asked for an epidural. I got THE rudest most disapproving glare and shake of the head from that awful nurse. I was ready to bite her head off! I was in so much pain that I was actually starting to go crazy and I knew the only way I’d be able to not push was to not feel the contractions. I was feeling guilty, but my midwife assured me that it was TOTALLY reasonable to want an epidural this time around and at least I had made it almost the whole way without. She said I likely would not have the drugs in my system long enough for them to cross the placenta and affect the baby. It’s not standard practice to give a woman an epidural at 10 cm, but this was a special case.

There was a chance of needing an episiotomy to make room for baby’s head as well as the possibility that the doc would need to stick his hand up there to flex baby’s head or use forceps for the same reason if baby wasn’t flexing his head on his own. And I didn’t want to feel all that going on. They had an anesthesiologist on standby in the room in case I wanted it for these exact reasons, so as soon as I said the word, they got to work. He was pretty quick, but it was still agonizing to try and sit still through those contractions while he placed the catheter.

Let me just say, one of my biggest motivating factors for natural drug-free childbirth (outside from the whole idea of it’s better for baby to not be doped up) was my fear of needles and the idea of getting one put in my SPINE. Well…it wasn’t bad. AT ALL. I don’t even know why I was so scared (of course, in the moment, all I wanted was that needle in there to start the drugs flowing). And within 5-10 minutes of that being put in, I started to smile and sat back and said “so THIS is why people get these things!!” Hahahaha! It was SUCH a relief. They gave me a low enough dose to still feel the contractions a bit so I knew when to push, but enough to be totally numb in my lady regions. And because I was able to finally relax a little and take some deep breaths, that lip on my cervix was gone in minutes.

It was time to push.Throughout my laboring at the hospital, I’d had several nurses and doctors ask my permission to witness the birth (since a breech delivery is pretty rare). And I said ok to everyone who asked. I figured, it was a learning experience for all, and if it resulted in more women being able to do a vaginal breech delivery, than I was happy to pave the way and be the guinea pig. Corey was really tempted to take full-room selfie but wasn’t sure everyone would appreciate it (particularly that evil L&D nurse). I think it would’ve been pretty funny though!

So with an audience of four doctors, three midwives, and another four or five nurses plus my own midwife and husband, I pushed with all my might! It was pretty weird to feel/watch him coming out bottom first. Once his bottom and legs were out I kept pushing to his shoulder blade. He was just kind of sitting almost cross-legged on the bed waiting for his head to come out, moving a bit but not frantic or anything. Kind of strange and really cool all at the same time.

I think it was at that point that the doc gave me a very small episiotomy, but I can’t remember for sure. It might have been earlier. All I remember is that I was pushing this baby out like my life depended on it. Because his did. Once he was out to his head, I had 3 minutes to push his head out before he’d run out of oxygen since he cord was compressed. I remember the doctor telling someone to watch the clock and said out loud to me “ok Amber, we’ve got 3 minutes. Plenty of time. You’re doing great. Let’s just finish up the job.” He then used forceps to flex his head as he was not flexing on his own, and about 30 seconds later, he was out! I think I pushed a total of 5-10 minutes from start to finish. He had zero breathing problems and apgar scores of a 9 and 10. He was immediately placed on my chest while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.

Everett 1-2

I’m not a crier. It was the only time I’ve ever cried at one of my childrens’ births. Not because I’m not emotional or ridiculously happy, I just don’t express my feelings with tears usually. But this time I was just SO relieved and happy that he was here safe and sound that I couldn’t help it.He was born at 6:25am. He was gorgeous. It was weird not seeing a cone-shaped head on him. He nursed almost immediately like a pro.We were somewhat like celebrities among the hospital staff during our stay but in a good way. “Oh!! YOU are the breech delivery????!! Congrats and way to go!!!” Recovery has been tougher with the episiotomy. I had one with my first baby, but I wasn’t chasing two toddlers around while trying to heal. But I wouldn’t trade the vaginal delivery for anything. Sooo glad we did it and so thankful we found a doc willing to do it!!I want my experience to help empower other ladies to have breech deliveries if they’re the right candidate for it!

by Amber Hansen

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