Browsed by
Category: Birth Videos

Dancing Doctor & Mama

Dancing Doctor & Mama

“Who you choose as a provider will play the biggest role in the options, support, and respect you receive through your pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum journey. Choose carefully, be picky as hell, and don’t hesitate changing if needed. Love yourself enough to get the care you deserve. As much as you would for someone else you love. Yes, love yourself that much, darling, because you’re worth it!” – January Harshe

We love seeing providers like @drfernandoguedescunha who is dancing with mama to get baby down and earthside!

Selah’s Birth Story

Selah’s Birth Story

Autumn shares with us the birth story of her fifth child.

“Honey, we are pregnant!”

And just like that, baby number five was on the way. Actually, it had taken over a year of trying after number four, but once that test showed positive, I was ecstatic. I’m sort of a pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding junkie, and we always wanted a big family (but perhaps at some point I should get a new hobby or become a midwife – someday!).

All of my births were incredible journeys of learning, experiencing the power within myself, discovering strength I didn’t know I had, and wonder at meeting a new human. My first birth was a planned unmedicated hospital birth; but I was young, uneducated and I ended up falling prey to their cascade of interventions. So for number two I educated myself, hired a doula and had a textbook wonderful, unmedicated hospital birth.

For number three, I decided I wanted a home birth. At 32 weeks, I started having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and went into labor at 36 weeks and two days. It was a beautiful, empowering and life-changing experience. At that moment, I decided I always wanted to birth my babies at home; but rarely does life go as planned. I went into preterm labor with number four at 32 weeks, and was admitted to the hospital. They were able to stop me from progressing with medication, but the contractions themselves wouldn’t stop. I was released from the hospital on medication and instructed to be on modified bed rest (Ha! I was a mother to three other children…but I did my best.) From 32 weeks until my water broke at 38 weeks I literally contracted every five minutes – even on medication. I think my body was exhausted.

My water broke spontaneously at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning with no contractions. My husband was only comfortable waiting for labor to begin for 24 hours. So when it didn’t, we headed to the hospital, got some Pitocin, and two hours later without any other medication, I was holding baby number four in my arms. I then proceeded to hemorrhage, and things got a little crazy. Number four’s birth was a little traumatic and went nothing like the plan, but it was still oh so worth it. So when I found out I was pregnant with number five (which is supposed to be our last), I was set on another home birth. I envisioned a perfect birth with a midwife and a photographer capturing all the intimate moments so I could treasure them for a lifetime. And this was my last shot at it!

First on my agenda was to locate a midwife, and then hire a birth photographer. Since we are a military family, all my babies have been born in different states; so I’ve never had the opportunity to have the same midwife with any of my babies. So I located a midwife and began seeing her. Through a misunderstanding on my part at thirty weeks, I realized that I needed a CNM for my insurance to help cover the home birth. So I contacted a different midwife, and she was willing to take me so late in my pregnancy. I loved her. I had never really “clicked” with my first midwife, but after the first time talking with our new midwife I loved her. She felt like the perfect match for our family. The only drawback in my mind was that she lived over an hour away; and we live in the Washington, DC area, so traffic can turn any drive into a much longer adventure.

At 32 weeks again, my Braxton Hicks contractions started in fierce. Given my history, we monitored them closely and I rested as much as possible. I tried all sorts of different strategies to try to keep the contractions down to a minimum. I absolutely did not want to go into preterm labor. I desperately wanted to make it to at least 36 weeks, if not longer; so I was willing to try anything that would help. My mom decided to come when I was 34 weeks to help with the other children and around the house. I homeschool my older kids, so “resting” during the day isn’t very easy. Once we made it to 36 weeks, my mother-in-law decided to go ahead and fly in so she could be at the birth as well.

Two days before my 37-week visit with the midwife, my contractions picked up in intensity and frequency. As the day progressed, they got closer and stronger. I tucked all my little ones in bed around 7 p.m. and then went to take a bath. By about 9 p.m. that night, my contractions were about three minutes apart and a little longer than a minute in duration, and I even a little bit of bloody show; so I called the midwife. In my mind I thought, “This is it!” (I should know what labor is, right? This is baby, number five after all).

My midwife checked back in about an hour later and the contractions were still going strong. She decided to go ahead and come over. Her assistant arrived first and started taking my vitals and helping me through the contractions. Shortly after the midwife arrived, the photographer arrived as well. The contractions were strong enough that it was difficult to talk through them. Then, about three hours after everyone arrived, they just stopped. We waited all night and nothing happened. So the next morning everyone left, thinking that my labor would probably start later that night again.

But nothing happened. My contractions just went back to their regular pattern. About a week later, this happened again. My 38-week appointment rolled around and everything looked great. Physically and emotionally, I was tired due to all the contractions, but baby was doing great. Then 39 weeks came and went as well. By this point, I was so ready to have this baby. I wasn’t sleeping well due to all the contractions, my hips were so sore, and I was tired of wondering, “Is this it?” My best friend had flown in for this week because we were sure baby would be here. But alas, my friend had to get back home to her family while there was still no baby.

At 40 weeks, my midwife arrived at my house for another weekly check. I had all my supplies ready, baby was doing well, and the grandmas were still at our house waiting for baby to arrive. At this point I was not feeling confident in my ability to be able to “know” when I was truly in labor. We had had several “this is it” calls, only to be disappointed… This was baby number five and I still couldn’t figure this out!

My midwife ad I had talked many times about what I envisioned the birth to be, what I wanted, and so forth. My biggest fear for the birth was that my midwife wouldn’t make it in time. I did not want to birth my baby without my midwife there. Especially since I had hemorrhaged after my fourth. We talked extensively about what to do if I had the baby before she got there. I felt so relieved; and for the first time, I felt at peace with the possibility of doing it without the midwife there. I still didn’t want it to happen that way, but I felt prepared in the event that it did. We parted ways with a hug, and a 41-week visit scheduled.

Before bed that night, my contractions had moved a little closer together, but I was not concerned since this had happened many times before. I honestly didn’t even give it a second thought. At 4:30 a.m. on March 23, 2016, I woke up to a contraction. I also needed to go pee, so I decided to get out of bed. While going to the bathroom, I noticed a little bit of bloody show. But again, this had all happened before in the few weeks prior. So I decided to lie back down. I lay down for about 20 minutes and had a couple more contractions, but I just couldn’t get comfortable due to my hips hurting. They had been bothering me so much over the course of the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Most mornings, I had been getting up at around 5 a.m. because it hurt too much to lie in bed any longer. So I slipped out of bed without waking my husband up, and decided to go downstairs and eat something. I made myself some eggs; and while doing that, I had a few more contractions. These contractions maybe felt a little stronger than my normal everyday Braxton Hicks contractions, but were nothing close to being painful. I went upstairs and decided to read. After about 30 minutes I decided to give the midwife a call; it was about 5:30 a.m., since the contractions were coming about every 5 minutes now. They still were not painful or unbearable, but I was still having a little bloody show. I figured we would have the baby sometime that day, perhaps around noonish.

I unlocked the front door and made my way upstairs to get in the bath to see if that would slow the contractions down. Before I got in, I thought I should wake my husband up, just to let him know what was going on. He immediately sat up and was ready to go. I reassured him he should just get more sleep as I didn’t need anything at this point, and told him I just wanted to let him know the front door was open and that the midwife would be there in about an hour. He insisted he wanted to get up, and I finally agreed.

Before I had gone downstairs to eat, I had set up the video camera just in case this was it. This was my last baby, and I did not want to miss getting it on camera. It was about 6 a.m. now and my tub was full of warm water. I put my sports bra on and got in to relax. A few minutes after I got in the tub, I had a contraction and I felt my water break. I immediately knew this was REAL labor and that this baby was coming fast. As soon as my water broke, I felt like I needed to push and I knew she was really close to being born. Mind you, less than five minutes before this I was reassuring my husband he could stay in bed because I didn’t even know if I was really in labor.

As soon as my water broke, I felt intense pressure. I screamed for my husband to get back in the bathroom, call the midwife, and press record on the camera. In my mind I knew the midwife wasn’t going to make it, but I was hoping she had somehow miraculously covered a large distance and was about ready to turn onto our street. But that wasn’t the case. She was still a little over thirty minutes away. We decided she would stay on the phone with us. As we were waiting for another contraction, she asked if I had called the photographer. SHOOT! Given the fact that I wasn’t sure this was it and then now the craziness, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I texted the photographer to tell her that I was in labor and that she should get there fast. She texted back saying she was on her way.

I had another contraction, and it was all I could do to keep from pushing. The contractions were so strong and powerful all of a sudden. My husband was a nervous wreck. He kept pacing; and all I wanted was for him to hold my hand. I did not want to have this baby by myself. The midwife wanted him to go get a few things ready, but I did not want him to leave me. At around this time, another powerful contraction began. The midwife was talking me through it, but about halfway through I could no longer hold off on pushing. My body just took over; and my daughter’s head was born. The midwife continued calmly talking with us, and I just patiently waited in the water for the next contraction. Even over the phone, our midwife was calm, collected, confident, and reassuring and a source of comfort for me. Her confidence and reassurance translated to a level of peace and confidence in my heart and mind.

The next contraction came at 6:15 a.m. and our fifth baby – our second daughter – joined us earth side just 15 minutes after my water had broken and I realized I really was in labor. She slid into my arms, and I immediately brought her to my chest. It was the most surreal moment. She snuggled in, and within a few moments let out her first cry. What a relief. I had done it. Selah Grace was here, and we were now a family of seven. Just my husband and I were at her birth. My mom, his mom, and our four older children had no idea the baby had been born.

Since the midwife was still about 30 minutes away, we decided to go get my husband’s mom to come assess my bleeding since she was a labor and delivery nurse. She told us she was in shock when he came back downstairs and told him the baby was here. She made her way up the stairs and monitored the situation until the midwife arrived. While we waited for the midwife I tried to get my new little one to nurse, but she was happy to just stare at me and listen to me talk to her.

The midwife arrived, the placenta was born, and everyone finally made it in our room to meet the new addition to the family. The photographer had also arrived so she was able to at least capture these moments. It was so beautiful to have all my children in bed with me marveling at our newest baby. She finally decided it was time to eat and she was a champ from the get go at breastfeeding. It was magical. Everyone enjoyed the next few hours of skin-to-skin, weighing baby, looking her over, and taking her in for the first time.

Her birth happened so quickly that it took me several weeks – maybe even a few months – to come to terms with it. In some ways, I felt like I couldn’t even process it because it had felt like such a whirlwind. It was peaceful and awe-inspiring, but it was just difficult to wrap my mind around. Now, eight months later, I feel empowered. It was a magical moment being the only ones there, and I realize there was no way for me to guess that it would have happened that quickly.

Photographs by Alhalia Photography.

Veda’s Birth Story

Veda’s Birth Story

Liz shares the story of her third child’s birth at home. 

Birth. There is so much packed into those five letters. Something that, no matter how hard you try, is so hard to give the words its beckons to describe it, because not one is the same. It is a cross between two literal worlds, which are uniquely intertwined, relying on each other to hold up their end of the deal…sending the signals and surrendering to the process.

One of my favorite parts of birth is the normalcy that surrounds it. I like to look back and remember every detail of the day before, having no clue the next day my life would forever change. Obviously, we know there is a baby coming; but other than that, we sign on for voluntary participation in an unfolding live mystery.

The day before my due date (January 7, 2016), my family spent the day together intentionally. As we had the two weeks prior as well, knowing our two children’s lives were also awaiting change, we loved on them hard. This particular day was beautiful and sunny out for a cold January afternoon. We decided to go to an indoor play place up the road, which was free; and free is always good. It also happened to be my mother-in-love’s birthday, so she met us there with donuts and coffee in hand – slightly ironic, since it was her birthday. She was still holding out that her present would be wrapped in vernix. What she didn’t know was that I thought I was in labor two times that week already, so the possibility was there.

We were the last ones out of the play place when they closed. Before we left home earlier, Sully wrapped a ton of presents for his Grammy Dukes, which consisted of all of his toys wrapped in Priority Mail boxes. He grabbed them out of the van and took them over to her car, where she opened all five of them and then followed us to the back of the parking lot to watch him skateboard. Steven and Sully tore it up on their skateboards for over an hour in the cold.

Maggie and I watched in the comfort of our nice little minivan – our provider of all things warm and comfortable. I took videos and pictures, amazed at how big my little buddy was. Once the sun went down, we packed up and went on our way; and I’m pretty sure my mother-in-love let me know there was still time to have the baby on her birthday. I figured the baby would be born on the 18th – the most logical date in my mind, since it was past the guess date, and the same day of the month as my other two were born. Once we left, we stopped at Home Depot to grab some last-minute things for Nest Fest 2015/2016. The kids had fallen asleep, so I stayed in the van with them.

Our normal night continued on; we stopped for coffee on the way home, I requested some “Sexual Healing” later on while waiting in the drive-thru, we hung the curtains I got and found out I failed to realize you actually need to measure windows before buying said curtains. I remember us all sitting in the bedroom just hanging out and talking. Eventually I went to bed. Not too long after, Sully came wandering in. He was very restless, which made it impossible for me to sleep. I told him that if he wasn’t tired, he could go back out with Daddy, to which he replied, “No I can’t; Daddy said he would pay me if I came to bed.” I clearly wasn’t expecting that answer, and I also was silently thinking, “Seriously, Steven just bribed our kid to come to bed!” Then I realized that Steven was trying to expedite his release of oxytocin.

Sully finally fell asleep, and then Maggie followed along at around 2 a.m.; and yes, you read that right. We forgot this sleep stage we went through when Sully was her age. I dozed off; 3 a.m. rolled around and I thought, well, it’s now or never. I whistled for Steven, and the two dollars he bribed Sully with was well spent.

At 4 a.m. I took a shower, thinking that by the time I woke up the next day I may not have time. I even went as far as to dry my hair, specifically telling my husband that I could be in labor the next day. In the last month of pregnancy, I made sure my hair was washed, dried and semi-styled (and by that I mean I brushed it), knowing it wouldn’t be too long before a new baby was on the scene.

I got back in bed, and Steven sat in the chair at the end of the bed; we commented on each other’s Facebook Posts, as any weird couple would do. I couldn’t fall asleep until around 5 a.m. It went well until my hip started hurting, just as it had over the past few nights. So I crawled down to the footboard and stretched out and slept there until Maggie woke up. I went back up to the top of the bed and started to nurse Maggie, and I was still uncomfortable.

I texted Steven at 10:07 a.m. and told him I needed him. I had to get up, and I knew that was not going to go over well. At 10:12 a.m. I felt a contraction, and then another one six minutes later. “Oh snap, this might be it,” I thought. Right then, Steven walked in and I got up and went to the bathroom to try and walk it off, still thinking that it could just be from my hip hurting. I walked out to the kitchen and continued having contractions roughly every three minutes apart, and tracked them for about half an hour before telling Steven that I thought I was in labor.

Before we go any further, let me give you some back-story: the positive test took me by surprise. Our pregnancies always do, since we don’t prevent and don’t plan; but this was different from the beginning. I had felt like I had gotten my groove back – one that I hadn’t realized that I’d lost – kind of like when in Hook, Robin Williams forgot he was Peter Pan. Life came to a halt as sloth-like behavior and my anti-food campaign kicked into full gear.

Everything that once was a mere five weeks before was nevermore. It wasn’t until about late-July that I was able to not feel complete exhaustion, and that food was palatable again. I’m sure it was no different than my prior two pregnancies, but it was much harder with two small children and working full-time (to me), considering I was holding down my primary job as a mom and my hours were 24/7.

This whole pregnancy, I felt as though time was flying by and I couldn’t slow it down enough to fully embrace it, as I had with my others. Eventually, I accepted the fact that this was just a different pregnancy and I was slowly able to release all the guilt I had been feeling around that. I let go of trying to decide if this was our last baby, thus refueling the guilt storm of not being able to live every moment like I was running through a field of wildflowers with the perfect filter and glowing pregnant goddess vision in my head. My husband and I call this “mental mind pirates” and they were trying to jack my pregnant booty.

As December approached, I started getting into game mode, even though I was sure it was never going to happen. I couldn’t envision my birth, and just felt off-kilter. Lo and behold, the nesting began, and logistical planning showed up. However, the heart of this birth and how it would unfold eluded me. I had no specific music picked out and really what felt like no capacity to picture it. I started to journal, asking myself questions.

“What am I afraid of?”

“What is holding me back?”

“What do I want my birth to be like?”

I reached out to my doula many times, attempting to explain this mysterious fear that I couldn’t pinpoint. I watched birth videos and read birth stories, but felt nothing still. I eventually reached out to a magical Facebook friend – the kind that you’ve never met in human form, but only in heart form. It turns out that she had the same experience, and my instinct to message her and lay my heart out after she commented on my daughter’s birth video proved to be helpful.

It put me at ease, and I eagerly shared with my husband the good news that I wasn’t the only one. Those healing and freeing short messages back and forth were on January 5th, after two separate days of contractions that started and stopped after three hours both times. Once on New Year’s Eve, and four days later on January 4th that added to my anxiety and led me to reach out for help. With my prior two births, I never had contractions up until it was go-time; and they were consistent and predictable until I was holding my new baby.

I felt a sense of renewal and ready after talking to Erin. The simple act of validating what I was feeling gave me the ability to release my fears. Cue the “Eye of the Tiger”…

On January 7th, 2016, I woke up with hip pain, as I mentioned above. The pain with those first friendly contractions was awful, and made me feel like I needed to get up and stretch. After the third contraction, I made it out to the kitchen to drink some water; and they kept coming. I started writing them down, breathing through them, and found a pattern.

I went in and told Steven I was pretty sure I was in labor, and proceeded to go back to the kitchen to labor. I called and text my doula, midwife and videographer, but I still felt like the boy who cried wolf. I was determined this would be the day. I focused and prayed that this was it, because the mental mind pirates mind games were wearing on me with false labor. I asked my husband to get the birth pool set up so it was done. With two littles, I just wanted it done and out of the way, knowing I wasn’t going to get in anytime soon. With my last birth, it went much quicker than anticipated, so this put me at ease.

My midwife was the first to show up, at a little after 11 a.m. She got there just as my contractions began to space out…what the heck? Not again, I thought. This was after she decided she would come right away instead of doing checkups. I felt so bad to tell her after her driving an hour here. She didn’t seem concerned though, and we carried on. Freida mentioned that when she woke up, she saw a sliver moon and thought to herself that babies would start coming. She arrived just after the sheer excitement of the birth pool being set up, and the kids sprinting to get their bathing suits on.

In that same sweet moment, our youngest kept saying what sounded like “white chocolate” to us. Thankfully, Sully, our four-year-old, has mastered the art of toddler translation and let us know she was saying “life jacket”. Duh! Despite this simple request being unneeded for the birth pool, Steven took the dad of the year torch and went to the garage to grab it out of the rafters. Off he went, and we kept on keeping on in the kitchen, Pandora pumping. I saw my doula’s car pull up and expected her to walk in…except she didn’t.

I heard her in the foyer saying something, and then my midwife slowly and curiously walked into the foyer. None of them came in. I heard my doula repeating, “Are you okay?” At this point, I knew something was wrong and I consciously made the decision to not care. I was having this baby and didn’t want my contractions to halt. I deduced that obviously my husband was hurt, but could also tell by my doula’s tone in her voice it was not life-threatening.

Everyone eventually filtered back in, including my husband…similar to Lazarus coming back from the dead in the Bible. It turns out that as he was trying to grab the life vest, his ladder fell over. Apparently he tried to yell for us, and eventually he couldn’t hold on any longer and fell from the rafters. Yes, HE FELL FROM THE RAFTERS! So when my doula got here, she initially thought it was me she heard from outside. Once she walked in, she found out the noise was coming from the garage and that it was Steven, after thinking someone was being attacked. Much to Maggie’s dismay, Operation Life Jacket was a no-go, but by George, this labor was back in business.

I stood at the island drinking my red raspberry leaf tea, laughing and talking, while my doula rubbed my back and midwife supported my belly. At about 12:45 p.m., I started getting concerned that my contractions weren’t hurting; not that I’m a glutton for pain, but I wanted them to prove themselves – to prove that I was in labor, and that I wasn’t wasting everyone’s time. I mentioned to my doula that the birth ball made them not hurt at all; so we decided to stay off of it, unless I needed a break later.

1

At the suggestion of Shelley, my doula, we went on a walk. It was so warm ­– 45 degrees and sunny on a January day in Ohio. Sully came with us and gathered nature/garbage treasures as I racked up some contractions, which seemed to get a bit more intense and closer together on that walk. Once we got back, I resumed my ritual of laboring in the kitchen, conversing and peeing in between contractions. During one particular contraction, Sully got very serious and said, “Dad, mom is having a heart attack,” meaning contraction. Although, it never failed – I had a contraction each time I walked into the bathroom, all by my lonesome. A few times, my husband would wander in to make sure I was okay.

The best part was the backdrop to my birth, with the kids in their bathing suits, balloons in full effect, and water splashing everywhere. They were tearing it up in the birth pool. We made dreams come true that day. I would just look over and smile and answer the same question to my son Sully, as he would say, “Mom, why don’t you just get in the birth pool to have the baby?” The fact that those words are in his vocabulary and cognitive understanding melted my heart each time.

I watched as Steven and the kids played a game Sully made, and then Maggie as she set up a picnic, thinking how serene it was. After a while, my doula suggested another walk. I started to feel a bit tired and my midwife thought a nap may help labor along. I complied and not long after, Maggie came in and asked to nurse. She was almost asleep and I had to moan through a contraction. There it was – my old friend, the moan, letting me know we were ramping up. I had to get up, and felt bad that I had hijacked her boob and her nap when my baby girl was so tired.

During my nap from 2:30 – 3 p.m., my doula ran down the road to the local health food store to grab some lunch. I felt like she was gone forever as I moaned through contractions and lost track of time. She came back and I was simultaneously starving and so tired. I remember walking over to the carpet and just sitting on the ground until a contraction came and I got on all fours. Lisa, the videographer, brought the birth ball over and I laid over it and welcomed contractions for about an hour. They almost didn’t hurt in this position. I would intermittently take breaks to scarf down a sandwich Steven made.

2

Contractions started to get stronger at around 4:45 p.m., and I noticed I was moaning more and more; however, I felt like my contractions were far apart ­– around 15-20 minutes. I felt like this labor was going to be longer, which was one of my original fears during this pregnancy. My first labor was 28 1/2 hours, and my second was 7 1/2 hours. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for a speedy labor, and once the contractions started taking legitimate lunch breaks I felt like I’d be in for the long haul.

I started walking by the pool and contemplating for the first time getting in. I held off though, letting my daughter know a little bit longer as she asked me to get in. At 6:00 p.m. I made the decision to get in. As I did so, my husband called and ordered pizza from right up the road for pickup. He was going to take the kids and give them a break. The warm, mucky water was welcoming. We have city water and for some reason, this was the one day out of the year we had brown water.

3

I set up on all fours, hanging over the side, and right about then I began to sound like I was exorcising the demons. This was around the time I started yelling out for Jesus. Eventually, I started saying, “Thank you Jesus.” My husband tells me I was no louder than any other birth, but I remember thinking in my head that my videographer was sure to have nightmares, since she had never heard me labor.

I started to push at 6:10 p.m., and my water broke 12 minutes later; it scared me, and I screamed, “My water broke!” I was in the thick of it at this point. I kept trying to look at my birth affirmations hanging on the wall, and zeroing in on the “I am not afraid” one, which was front and center. It was quite possibly the most important one up there, and I let my doula know that I was afraid that it would hurt. And it did  — so much more than I remember with my last birth.

As my contractions came hard and heavy, my husband started reading my affirmations out loud to me, with the last one being, “This baby will come out of my vagina.” I laughed in my head. At this time, my doula started whispering in my ear, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I told her to keep talking. I just felt like I couldn’t get past the pain and needed to hear her voice.

After that, my husband took the kids into the bedroom as I started getting louder. I started pushing; and mid-push I yelled, “Steven, you need to call and have them deliver the pizza!” My doula let me know they already told him, and that he was on the phone. I’m sure the pizza shop wondered if he was mid-murder as I moaned through pushing. He let them know not to ring the doorbell. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. It had no effect on getting this baby out.

I remember no breaks and constant pushing; being aware of the pain and thinking that this does not sound fun to do again. After what felt like I had been pushing so long, everyone said, “Grab your baby!” At 6:31 p.m. they brought my baby up through my legs, and I tried my hardest to muster up the tears. I felt after such an emotionally taxing pregnancy and feeling the urge to cry with each push – something I’ve never felt before – that I would definitely cry… but nothing.

4

I held my sweet baby against my hot chest and was in awe of how tiny this little one seemed. Moments later, we found out we had a sweet baby girl, and named her Veda Willow. We waited for her cord to stop pulsing and my daughter declared the water to be yucky, and I delivered the placenta at 6:47 p.m. My son Sully was in awe of it and called it the baby’s nest. He helped cut the cord, which he called the antenna, and soon referred to it as the tentacle. I got out at 6:58 p.m. and set up shop on the couch to nurse while everyone indulged in pizza. Sully brought every baby blanket out and covered us up; he was so happy. Maggie nursed and was out cold, and Steven brought some pizza over for the two of us as he checked out his new baby girl.

5

Once Veda was finished nursing, I decided to get in the sitz bath, where she joined me soon after. When we were done, I hopped into my adult diaper and we went out to take her measurements and footprints. She was 8lbs, 3oz and 20½ inches long – my smallest baby thus far. I was sure she would be 10 lbs; I was also sure she was a boy. Clearly I’m good at growing and harboring our children, but my guessing accuracy needs some tuning.

Our day began to wind down as we got her first diaper on; Lisa took a few pictures, and we settled in to our new normal in what is now my favorite chair in the house. Everyone started cycling out. My people had been with me for 10 hours and Freida, my midwife, left me with a sweet kiss.

6

Soon it was just the five of us about to set sail on our new journey, transitioning and finding a new balance in life; and slowly, it is coming. We are trying to be intentional each day to focus on postpartum recovery, loving on each little one and giving each other grace. For the first time, I made a postpartum plan along with my birth plan. It is hard to follow, especially going from Nest Fest 2015 to Low and Slow 2016. We are letting go of the reigns, embracing the mess and finding beauty in each moment.

Veda Willow from Lisa Lachmaier on Vimeo.

Two Of Our Favorite Pregnancy And Birth Videos Ever!

Two Of Our Favorite Pregnancy And Birth Videos Ever!

I originally shared these on the BWF Blog in 2010. They are still two of my favorites!

This first video, I can only share as a link. It is one of the most amazing birth video compilations I have ever seen. I promise that you will not regret watching this inspiring video!

Click on the following link to watch the video:  Partosfrancia (Births France)

This next video is just rad. It is an exceptionally well done computer animated video of conception to birth. It will blow your mind, not to mention the music is great!

Love,

January

A Wilde Birth Story, from NYC

A Wilde Birth Story, from NYC

nyc1

We named him Wilde, just as his entry into this world was. My partner, Simon, and I arrived to the hospital early on a late, September, Monday morning. My water had broken and I had been laboring lightly at home. I was just barely full term, four days into my 37th week of pregnancy. My midwife said to come into the birthing center so she could check to make sure all was okay. If it was, they’d send me home to labor.

We had been preparing for this day for months. We took ten birthing classes, including a Bradley course and extensive Hypnobirthing preparation. After watching the Business of Being Born, ten years earlier, I had committed myself to a natural child birth. I wanted to go through that rite of passage that is labor and fully earn my badge, without having any numbing effects. Any time someone would say, “The best made plans…” I would think, Yeah, but I’ll be different. I will have the birth I want.

When I sat with the midwife that morning, she looked at my blood pressure reading wide-eyed and with worry. I felt my best made plans quickly slip away. My blood pressure was through the roof, 190/100. She explained to me that I had preeclampsia, a pregnancy-induced high blood pressure condition, and that the only cure was delivery. I immediately flashed to Sybil in Downton Abbey, thinking that if this were the turn of the century, I’d be toast.

As the midwife discussed the course of action to induce with Pitocin, I immediately jumped to the worst case scenario and suggested they just wheel me in for a C-section right then and there. The midwife humored me and said we didn’t have to jump there. Besides, going through a labor process would be good for me and my baby. The important thing would be to keep my blood pressure in check, staving off a seizure or stroke.

In the hospital room, I resigned myself to putting on the hospital gown. My birthing ball, birthing outfit, the arnica massage oil, and the aroma therapy seemed so far from where I was at. I lay in the bed, hooked up to an IV, catheter, a blood pressure cuff, and a fetal monitor. I curled up on my side and the tears came. Simon embraced me as I fell apart in her arms. The disappointment I felt was so deep. I felt like a fool for being so narrowly focused on a birth plan that had only one outcome: no interventions. I felt lost and afraid of what was to come. The other side to all of this seemed impossibly far away.

At 6pm, after 10 hours at the hospital, I was one centimeter dilated. I slowly let go and turned inward as the Pitocin started to advance my labor. My birthing team: Kori, my doula; Shannon, my midwife; Kate, my doctor; and Simon my partner, became my rocks through the building intensity. Each had a position to assume during every contraction; Simon held my hand, Kori pressed into my hips, and Shannon held my feet. Kate made sure my blood pressure was steady, not easy to do with readings like 201 over 110. I ended up on Magnesium Sulfite and high blood pressure drugs to keep things as stable as possible.

With my blood pressure still so high, it became clear that I needed to deliver this baby as soon as possible. At about 9pm, three hours after starting the Pitocin, contractions built to a jagged peak in their intensity. I had the conversation with my midwife of when to begin the epidural. She suggested I wait 40 minutes to coincide with the blood draw I was slated to already have. After another strong contraction rattled my body, I reasoned that I didn’t care if my blood was drawn twice. I wanted relief from the ever-increasing pain.

Then, at 9:30pm, like lightning through my body striking my uterus, I had a contraction like none of the others before. I was compelled to hold the bar on the bed and bear down. The sound that escaped me was an electric scream – hard and fast. Shannon jumped up and said, “I am going to check you now.” I resisted and said I was afraid another contraction would come, but she was already inside of me. Then she proclaimed, “We’re there! 10 centimeters!” I hardly could believe it; I made it. The energy in the room suddenly shifted with excitement.

With Kori coaching me along, she said, “It’s time to push your baby out! Get in a position you want and follow what your body tells you to do.” I immediately got up, flipped onto all fours, gripped the back of the tilted up hospital bed, and rode the bucking horse of the next three contractions. Each one was stronger than the next. Each felt crazier than the last. Kate and Kori reminded me to make deep, grounded sounds, to direct the energy down and out. It’s also what I had practiced, but felt so hard to harness in the moment. I felt the baby move down. I reached down and felt the top of his head. He felt like a pear inside of me and all I could see was green. He felt small and possible to move. With the next contraction, I embraced Simon with all of my might, bore down, brought my breath to the deepest place I could, and birthed my baby.

Wilde came out screaming and perfect. I held him in utter disbelief, feeling victorious and incredibly grateful.

You can view Wilde’s first wonderful day by clicking the link here: Wilde_Day1 – Medium

Photography by Sarah F. Keough

The Birth of Luna Pearl: A VBAC Story from Home to Hospital

The Birth of Luna Pearl: A VBAC Story from Home to Hospital

lunapearl7

For three years I’ve wanted to send in the birth story from my first daughter, born in 2012. She was a planned homebirth, with a transfer to hospital for a cesarean section. She was posterior and asynclitic, and super stuck. I planned my second homebirth this past summer. This time a VBAC and I never felt more ready. I love birth, believe in every bit of birth and had the support of a strong, confident, loving midwife. I let go of so many things this time. Well, my water broke on July first and I never went into labor on my own. After every induction trick in the book and close monitoring by my homebirth midwife, at 56 hours post water breaking, we chose to go to the hospital for Pitocin. The hospital staff was amazing and respectful every step of the way, welcoming my husband and I, and my midwife without judgement.

Collage6

I received the maximum amount of Pitocin for 11 hours and didn’t feel ANYTHING, zero pain. The morning of the 4th of July, I finally felt a contraction and my daughter was born two hours later. During labor there were absolutely no signs of distress for either of us and I gave birth to her on the birth stool in peace with my midwife, husband, sister, and best friend.

Collage5

Everything felt so right. Every push was relief and I did exactly what my body told me to do. After my previous Cesarean and the torture and uncertainty of being patient with broken waters, I was finally having the experience where I could be in awe of our amazing bodies! I was able to pull my daughter up myself in a room full of happy tears.

Collage3

Pretty quickly we realized she was non-responsive and as floppy as could be. She was intubated and taken to the NICU for five days, where she was on a cooling mat for three days and then received an MRI and formal EEG. The belief is, that in the last moments when her head was born, she was somehow oxygen deprived, perhaps a compressed cord. The MRI of her brain and EEG came back perfectly normal, and she is six months old today, and as beautiful and happy as can be. I wanted to believe so badly that I was the woman that could squat in a field, alone somewhere, and birth my little miracle.

Collage2

For some reason, that has not been my story. I still believe so much in everything: home birth and the power of our bodies.  All though I wasn’t at home and it was absolutely nothing that I planned, I had that powerful labor and birth experience with my little moon baby this summer. There are days that I can’t help but feel resentment – Why did she come out not breathing? Especially when I hear other birth stories and there are many obvious signs of distress, long and drawn out in a rough labor, and the baby comes out kicking and screaming… Now that we can look back on her birth day, while holding a healthy, resilient little one, I’m still trying to figure out a way to disconnect the wonderful, powerful, redeeming qualities of my experience, from the terrifying experience at the very end. I’ll let you know when I gain a deeper understanding. Maybe some other mamas out there have some words of wisdom for me. For now, I would Love to share with you the beautiful photos my photographer caught and the amazing slideshow she created. I am proud of these, because I didn’t get to feel the experience of truly pushing my first daughter down and out. This time, it was so strong and real and powerful. The song “Keep Breathing” is perfect in so many ways, from beginning to end.

Collage1

Thank you so much for this blog it has been my absolute go-to and number one recommendation to my mama friends for four years.

Photography done by Paige Driscoll from Santa Cruz Birth Photography. Please enjoy the video they created below:

Power, Love And Grace of a Peaceful Homebirth

Power, Love And Grace of a Peaceful Homebirth

I would like to share my video of my homebirth of Dorothy, born in May of 2014, weighing in at 10lbs. 7 oz.

I have overcome a lot of adversity with both of my pregnancies and deliveries.  With my first birth at home everyone I talked to about homebirth would trash the idea telling me, “You’re crazy!” they all said.  “I would have died,” they said.  Every person in my family has only had C-sections. My mom, sister, cousins, aunts, you name it.  Not a one experienced physiological birth. So to my family, this was truly an insane thing to do.

The difference between my first birth and my second was that my own mother was present to witness birth.  It was the first time she had seen birth. Ever. She herself had undergone four C-sections because she believed that was her only option after a very traumatic first cesarean birth.  She was there while I labored, taking care of my toddler Opal.  She hugged me, crying, and said, “Good job. I love you.” It was a very powerful moment for us.  I believe that witnessing the birth of her granddaughter has changed her forever.

After a peaceful, amazing morning of labor, my beautiful big girl was born.  I was amazed at how huge she was!  My mother was sobbing and said to me later, “This is how birth is supposed to be. This is how women are supposed to be treated. I am so proud of you.”

This video is inspiring, even for myself.  I cannot believe that I did that.  I did something so strong in my weakest moment.  In Corinthians the Bible says; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

For me, this couldn’t be any truer.  I hope that you will please share this video so that maybe someone, somewhere, will be inspired.  I believe that my story is meant to encourage others to believe that they CAN, and they WILL, and that they are STRONG.

Photos by Brenda Frank. Slideshow by David Frank Photography

{Submitted by Christina Morehouse}

Another Wonderful Natural Hospital Birth

Another Wonderful Natural Hospital Birth

“This is the story of the birth of my third child. It was my first time to try a natural delivery and it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had a wonderful natural hospital birth with a supportive OB, a fantastic nurse that enjoys working with moms going natural, a doula, and a birth photographer, and my husband.” – Alicia

After days of off and on prodromal labor, two trips to L&D for false labor, and lots of tears, I finally turned over this birth to God. I let go of trying to keep things going and just accept that labor would begin when the time was right. I spent January 8 with that mindset and relaxed mostly, caught up on some grocery shopping, and cooked a big meal of all the things I’d been craving.

On the morning of January 9, at 5 a.m. I turned over on to my side to try and roll out of bed for a bathroom trip. I felt and heard a pop in the silence of the early morning. I immediately knew what it was and although it was not how I had wanted my labor to begin, it was how my baby chose to get things started. I was filled with excitement and anticipation as this was my first natural birth and I had been preparing diligently for it for 16 months. Contractions began immediately – mild, but coming every 2-4 minutes right off the bat. I decided to shower, finish packing, and get the kids up. I placed a call to my mom to come watch the kids and my doula to let her know what was going on.

We headed to the hospital around 7:30 a.m. and I notified my birth photographer also of what was going on, but that we likely had a long wait ahead of us. We got checked into triage and the nurse was wonderful. She checked my cervix to find I was at 3 cms dilated, still thick and posterior, but very soft. She also verified that it was amniotic fluid and we went over my birth plan briefly. She monitored my contractions, which nearly all but stopped while I was laying down on the stretcher, and also the baby’s heartbeat. Everything looked great and we were admitted to our room. She was kind enough to put us in one of the suites with lots of room even though I wouldn’t be allowed to labor in the Jacuzzi tub considering my membranes had ruptured. We quickly got settled, I received my IV antibiotic for GBS, and had some more monitoring done. My OB dropped in to check on us at that point and remind us that he was leaving to go out of town at noon so he let us know who would be covering for him. I was sad that he wouldn’t be at the birth, but knew that the OB that was covering was great too, and also supportive of natural births.

At that point I was essentially cut loose to labor how I wanted. I knew that I needed to walk and get things moving again. So we began to walk the halls. Contractions started out very manageable and I could easily walk and talk through them. My husband and I spent some time alone at this point walking. We made our way back to the room for my nurse to put me back on the monitors for a bit to check on baby. I was allowed to do this while on the birth ball, which was nice and kept the contractions moving. We all sat around laughing and talking during this time – me, Micah, my doula, and our birth photographer. I started to notice the contractions begin to get a little more difficult to talk through. Everyone took turns going to get lunch and it was really nice to be able to eat my own food and drink my own drinks during labor. There were no IV fluids and being told that I couldn’t have anything to eat. I knew I’d have to eat to keep my strength up and surprisingly I had a big appetite. When the monitoring was done, I decided that it was time to get up and get moving again. I knew that it would help me progress. So we started walking the halls again. Things quickly began to intensify. I could not walk at all or talk through contractions. I felt the need to squat deeply with them and let my belly hang. It was the only way I could relax through them. It was natural to try and fight them and I constantly had to remind myself to breathe and relax – to let them happen. Before I knew it my doula was at our side and she had to help talk me through them. I began to feel really sleepy and wanted to head back to the room to rest.

As we walked back into our room I decided that I no longer wanted in the bed. I knew that I needed to be up while I could. So I opted to use the birth ball again. This time we spread out a huge blanket on the floor, I got on all fours, and rocked back and forth through contractions on the birth ball. I spent this time just working through contractions as they came and I remember distinctly it was during this time where I began to moan through them and really had to concentrate on breathing. My husband was on one side of me and my doula on the other for every single one. They were coaching me through and holding my hands as I needed. My nurse appeared here and there to briefly check the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler, but otherwise left us alone to labor how we wanted. I had requested no cervical exams unless I asked for one at some point due to the fact that I was GBS positive and my membranes had ruptured. I didn’t want to introduce any bacteria unnecessarily. I wondered where I was on the scale of cervical dilation, but also knew that the numbers don’t mean much as they can change fast or slow. My doula assured me that I was progressing through the normal stages of labor and my cervix was definitely changing.

Around 2 p.m. (this is the only actual “time” that I remember), the covering OB, came in to see me. He told me that he’d like to check my cervix, but didn’t have to. I was so impressed with how laid back he was and how he let me call the shots. I was on my hands and knees and he offered to do my cervical exam that way if I was more comfortable so I didn’t have to get up and into the bed. I decided I’d be more comfortable in the bed anyway so he checked my cervix and found I was 7-8 cms, very stretchy, and there was a second bag of waters that was still intact, which he offered to break for me. I decided against having him break it, thinking that it would make the contractions much more intense and I’d like to see how it progressed without that intervention. After he left I made one of many trips to the bathroom and like all the others, every time I sat on the toilet, my contractions intensified immensely. I remember sitting there and telling my doula that I felt like I needed to push. So they got me back to the bed quickly. My nurse was hanging around so she checked my cervix and I was still just 8 cms, so not ready to push yet.

At this point my doula suggested we get the squat bar out on the bed and I could sit up and then squat with contractions to try and bring baby down. It sounded really good at the time so my nurse fetched the squat bar and they broke the bed down. It was a really neat setup and felt good for a while. This was when the most intense part of my labor hit. I could literally feel my pelvis opening and with contractions I could feel burning as everything spread to make way for my baby. I squeezed that bar so tight with every single contraction, my husband to my left, and my doula, to my right. I had to have both of them for every single contraction. I’ve learned that I’m not one of those people who could do it on my own. I needed a lot of verbal coaching and need hands to hold.

028 copy

During this time they kept telling me since my cervix was so stretchy that if it felt good to put a little pressure behind the contractions that I could. So I tried it a few times and it did feel good. I was scared of pushing too prematurely and risking my cervix swelling so I tried really hard to listen to my body and push a little if I needed or hold back if it didn’t feel right. It was during this time that I definitely entered the self doubt period. My support team was so calm and reminding me that I was doing it and that I was almost done. Although I was so angry at them because I had been stuck here since 2 p.m. and I thought that at 7-8 cms with a third baby that I really was almost done, but I kept looking at the stupid clock on the wall in front of me and noticed time going by but nothing happening. I finally told them I had to lie down.

I lay down in the bed for a while and drifted off to sleep between contractions. Real sleep – I was dreaming. Then another contraction would hit and I would want to just die. I squeezed hands on either side of me through every one and spoke more nonsense of self doubt. Then when it was over I would drift back off to sleep. I did this for what felt like forever and my nurse checked yet again per my request to find that I was still 8 cms, but the baby had come down and that bag of water was now bulging though my cervix. This was officially my breaking point. The hardest part was knowing I was still only 8 cms two hours later and who knew how much longer this would go on. I knew that if I could get up and squat again that this baby would come much quicker, but I physically could not get up. My support team tried to lift me up several times but it felt like my body was ripping in half when they did that. I begged them to get the OB to come back and break that stubborn bag of water so that the head could come down. I was scared at the thought of how painful it might become, but knew it would end.

Dr. G arrived quickly to check my cervix. I was now 9 cms and he broke that second membrane. It gushed tons of fluid and he assured me it wouldn’t be long. He was about to walk out the door and said he’d be right outside when I stopped him and said I wanted to push. He told me to go ahead. I had always expected to feel this natural urge to push and that my body would just take over and do it, but it wasn’t like that. I felt the pressure and tried to push a little with it and it felt so good. Once I reached a certain threshold my body took over at that point and started to involuntarily push baby down and I remember grunting uncontrollably.

067 copy

Suddenly I felt the burning that I assumed was the stretching for the head I’d always heard described as the “ring of fire.” It burned, but it felt so good to just push right through it. I asked if they could see anything and they said the head was right there. One push more and the head was all the way out. I heard Dr. G say that this was going to be a big baby. I wanted to have a controlled pushing stage so that I may not tear bad or at all, but at this point, there was no control. I just pushed with all I had a couple more times and the baby was all the way out.

130 copy

I had done it! I had managed to make it through. I leaned up and saw that it was a baby girl just as I had always had a feeling about. Our sweet Emmy Clare. She may be our third child, but she is certainly the first to teach me that I can do anything. I swear it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I am so proud to say that I was able to with the loving support of a couple others. I think we were all shocked when they put her on the scale to see that she weighed 8 lbs 5 ounces! By far my biggest baby.

I have to say that the hospital staff was wonderful including every nurse I encountered throughout my stay and Dr. G that delivered me. They respected every aspect of my birth plan from laboring and delivering to even postpartum baby care. I am so thankful for such a great hospital birth and know now that we made the absolute best choice for us.

Birth Photography is by HF Photography.

Can't Get Enough Birth Without Fear? Sign Up For More Inspiration!
We respect your email privacy.