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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Inspirational Natural Hospital Water Birth with Video {Dad Catches Baby!}

Inspirational Natural Hospital Water Birth with Video {Dad Catches Baby!}

This birth story came to us with a wonderful message thanking the BWF Blog for all it does. We want to let YOU know – you mothers, you birth warriors, you inspiring women and families – is where this all comes from. We are blessed to share this story and the many others that come our way every day.

Ms. BWF,

First off, let me say that BWF is an amazing resource for women looking for information and support and I’m so glad I came across you on Facebook.

An ongoing topic on BWF has been “can you have a peaceful, natural, fearless birth in a hospital?” And I wanted to share my birth with you and your followers to say that YES! With the right team, some research and a lot of perseverance, you CAN!!

On Aug 28th, I gave birth to my son, Jaxon, at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City. With the support of my midwife, my doula and my amazing husband I had a beautiful, peaceful, amazing birth. No drugs. No interventions. No pressure. No questions. Just love and support.

I know not every woman has access to such resources, and we’re the exception and not the rule, but I wanted to share my experience to show that it can be done!!

Thanks again for all you do! I hope our story can be more rule than exception someday.

Sincerely,
Sarah

We are blessed to have had two amazing, intervention-free hospital births with our two sons. We chose a birth team that we thought would help support us in our goal of having as natural and intervention free birth as possible – CNMs, Doulas, birth classes, etc. With our second child, we had the most peaceful, natural birth we could have hoped for!

I labored at home as long as possible, leaving for the hospital only when my body told me it was time to go. After getting to the hospital, we were pre-admitted by our amazing Midwife and got to skip triage and go straight to the birthing suite!

I labored the baby down on what our doula calls the “dilation station” (aka the toilet) before getting into the tub. I relaxed in the warm water and retreated inward while my body did the hard work of labor (to the point where I actually fell asleep between contractions while 9+ cm dilated).

 laboring

I pushed for just 15-minutes after my water broke in the tub as our amazing doula guarded my birth space from interference by well-intentioned nurses. My wonderful husband guided our son, Jaxon, into the world just moments after our midwife walked into the room.

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My husband snuggled him skin-to-skin as I got out of the water and soon after, I was tandem nursing my beautiful, healthy baby boy and his toddler brother in the blissful haze of an amazing, peaceful, natural hospital birth.

 brudder

Photos are by Taryn Goodwin, Spirited Doula Services

Amazing Breech VBAC {Fast hospital birth with pictures}

Amazing Breech VBAC {Fast hospital birth with pictures}

My first 2 babies were quick & easy induced vaginal births. My 3rd baby was delivered by caesarean section (in Jan 2011), as she was breech. A c/s was something I never wanted, yet the Drs insisted (via scaremongering crap) I have one due to her breech position. I was happy to go ahead with a vaginal breech birth (VBB), but the Drs were not confident and since they no longer practice breech deliveries I ended up with a scheduled c/s. She was delivered at 39wk 4d, happy, healthy and oh so perfect. Everything went really well thankfully. I still regret not trying harder to get a vaginal birth, as I knew I could have done it. I decided I would most definitely be having a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) for baby #4.

10 months after Mila’s birth, I found out I was pregnant again. Due end of July 2012.

My 4th pregnancy was very smooth sailing. I never had any morning sickness, or any problems at all. We chose to find out the sex of our baby at 20 weeks, a girl. We had moved from Canberra to Central West NSW (so we went from city to country pretty much) a few months before we found out we were pregnant, so I’d be delivering at a different hospital this time around.

At 24wk 5d I presented to the hospital with abdominal pain, and after some assessment it was decided I would have an appendectomy. Sure enough my appendix had burst. That was a scary few days, faced with the possibility of preterm labour. Before the surgery, I insisted they give me steroids for baby’s lungs, and if things went sour, to do all they could to save her. Thankfully the surgery went fine with no problems, and I recovered well. Baby stayed happily snug inside and showed no ill effects. I continued on with no problems through the rest of my pregnancy, watching my bump grow and getting excited about meeting our new baby.

At 37 weeks I went for a scan to check positioning of baby, despite her being cephalic (head down) a few days earlier at my antenatal appointment. Surprisingly though, she had flipped to breech. I couldn’t believe it! But I figured since she had been head down just a few days ago, surely she would turn back around, there was still time. In the meantime I tried a few baby flipping exercises, but not holding onto much hope of them working as they never did with Mila.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started reading as much information and birth stories on breech as I could. I knew that if I had another breech baby, I would push harder for a vaginal breech birth (VBB). I never expected it would come in handy.

I saw my OB a few days later, and I informed him that in no way will I consent to a c/s. I insisted I will be having a vaginal birth with this baby, as a c/s was completely unnecessary. He was supportive, agreed that we wait till I go into labour before making any decisions (I was surprised by his reaction, as I was more than ready for a fight). Though he did feel I would end up with a c/s and baby wouldn’t turn. This same OB when I first saw him a few months earlier, had asked why I had a c/s with #3. He was surprised that I wasn’t given a trial of labour with her since I’d had 2 previous successful VB (Vaginal Births), and my babies were only small. But since this would be a VBAC, he was slightly cautious.

Bub continued to be breech at the next few appointments, and as much as I had hoped she would turn, I gave into the fact she wasn’t going to turn head down.

I saw another OB at 39 weeks (I rotated between 2 OBs, so when I did give birth, I was familiar with whomever would be on call that day), and she performed an internal to see where I was at (She also did this as she couldn’t clearly tell if baby was still breech or not, which she was, and an internal helped her to tell). I was found to be at 2cm, soft and very favourable. She told me that I’d most likely have baby within the week. She knew my thoughts on having a c/s, and that I would be refusing one. As much as they didn’t want to deliver a breech baby vaginally, they also couldn’t refuse care. As bad as I felt putting both her and the other OB in that position, it wasn’t fair that I would be put in the position of not birthing the way I wanted, since it was my body & baby etc. That was Thursday 26th July.

I had been losing my plug over the last week or so, just little bits. Then on Saturday 28th (at 39+6) morning I found the rest of it had come away, though I knew this didn’t tell me much, labour could still be a week or more away. I’d also been experiencing painful Braxton hicks contractions over the last week, not too painful, but noticeable. These happened mainly when I was breastfeeding Mila (18mths old at the time). Though on this day I noticed they were around a bit more, and hurt a little more, not regular though. I really didn’t think anything of it, especially since they had been bothering me for weeks.

I headed to bed at 12:30am that night, I got nice & cosy, and then had a cough. Well as soon as I coughed my waters broke/burst. Totally didn’t expect that! I spent the next 20mins trying to get hold of the maternity suite, when I finally did, the Midwife (Susan) informed me that as it was the weekend and baby was still breech, my husband Lach & I would have to drive to Orange Base Hospital. My local hospital had no theatre staff on call, and they wanted that back up should something go wrong. Now Orange was over an hour drive away, and we weren’t too happy about driving all that way, but figured we had no choice.

After I got off the phone (just before 1am), I started getting painful contractions. They were coming every 5mins, and lasting just over a minute. This gave me a little hope that I may get a VB, as I had never gone into spontaneous labour with my other kids.

My Mum arrived at our place around 1:20am, and saw that I was having contractions. She soon suggested we get an ambulance to take us to Orange, as not only was Lach so tired and unwell (he had a horrid flu over the past week), but my previous VB were fast, and we didn’t want to risk birthing on the way. So she called up for an ambulance to take us. I was labouring on my bed at this point, on all fours. I was worried about a cord prolapse as I wasn’t sure if baby had engaged her bum yet or not. I really wanted to get up and jump in the shower, but didn’t want to risk being up right and possibly having a cord slip out.

The Ambos arrived around 1:40am, one of them lived just around the corner from us, so he got here pretty quick. After a check over, he informed me that we would have to go to the local hospital first before making our way to Orange. I felt bad as I had been told to go straight to Orange, but the Ambos said it was protocol. I had a contraction or 2 on the way, and wasn’t looking forward to labouring like this if we had to go to Orange. I had a canula inserted while in the ambulance in case I needed fluids etc.

At 2am, making our way along the corridors to the maternity suite I had another contraction (I was on my back, ouch!), and we were met by my Midwife Susan. I had to wait for the on call OB to arrive to do a check to see how far I was progressing. When she got there, I had an internal and amazingly I was already 8cm dilated! I couldn’t believe I was that far already, so quickly. This was what I wanted since finding out bub was breech, as the OBs had both said if I arrived at hospital at 7/8cm they would be happy to go for a breech VB. After my internal, my OB said I wasn’t going anywhere (YAY!).

Both my OB & Midwife explained how we were going to approach this birth. I had previously discussed with my OB how she would do it, so had a fair idea with how it’d go. I was told once I was fully dilated & ready to push, I’d have to come back onto the bed, on my back with my bum right at the end of the bed. They would be taking the ‘hands off approach’, where I would be left to birth baby without anyone touching her. This was so bub wouldn’t flex her head while still inside me, which would possibly cause her to get stuck. Though Susan said she would have a hard time resisting the urge to touch baby, as she was so used to being hands on when catching (cephalic) babies.

It was almost 2:30am when I found out I was staying, and I made my way into the shower to labour (boy was it great to be up off my back!). I was in there for about 10 minutes when I decided the water wasn’t hot enough for me (I had it up as far as it would go, with just hot water), so I asked for the gas. Oh that blissful gas, it’s awesome! I only had gas in my 2 previous VB, and found it really helped to ‘focus’ in a way.

Not too long and I was starting to feel pushy and let Susan know. This meant I had to get out of the shower and back onto the bed. I didn’t really want to, and was ready to crawl there, but Lach & Susan managed to encourage me to get up and make my way to the bed. I hopped up onto the bed on all fours (leaning over the head of the bed) and my OB checked me over again. I was almost fully dilated, with a little bit of cervix in the way. I stayed where I was and continued to suck on the glorious gas, fighting the urge to push. I looked up at the clock at this point and saw it was 2:45am.

Finally at around 3am I was 10cm, & ready to push. I flipped over onto my back (half sitting up), got into position, and started to push.

After a few minutes of pushing I could feel bub descending. Out came her bum (and she did a big poo & wee right before her bum emerged), then her feet flipped out from under her (she was complete breech with legs folded). Next out came her head, and then she was immediately passed up onto me. My baby girl was born at 3:13am (just over an hour after arriving at the hospital, making it just a 2hr labour).

australian hospital breech vbac

Susan went to clamp her cord, but I reminded her that I had requested delayed cord clamping as I felt (and knew) it was very beneficial for baby to receive all/as much blood from the placenta as possible. Though a minute or so later the OB asked us to clamp and cut it as bub wasn’t quite responding as well as she’d liked. She was fine though, and I knew this as I could see she was alert and trying to cry, just a little shocked. Lach cut the cord and bub was taken over to the warming tray to have a bit of air blown into her, then she was handed back to me where she latched on and began her breastfeeding journey.

first breastfeed

I indulged in my new baby girl as I delivered the placenta and I was checked over & given a few stitches. Bub was weighed & measured – 3110gm (6lb 13oz) & 48cm. After I showered, all 3 of us headed to a room to get a bit of sleep. Susan let Lach stay with me since it was so quiet on the ward (bonus of a small hospital), and he took up the bed next to me. I dozed in and out for the next few hours, had some brekky then waited for my OB to get back so we could be discharged. At 11:30am we were finally ready to go, and headed home to introduce our new daughter to her siblings.

newborn breech birth

Throughout my whole pregnancy we searched high & low for names. It was SO hard! Well if she had of been a boy it may have been easier, but naming our 3rd daughter was very tricky. Finally when she was 10 days old we agreed to name her Remi Violet.

Even now, almost 7 months later I find myself in awe. I can’t believe I did it! Well I knew I could do it, but I figured I’d end up with a c/s one way or another. I just didn’t think things would go the way I wanted. I now know that if we go back for another baby, and he/she is breech too, I will push again for another breech vaginal birth without question. I won’t let anyone convince me otherwise. I am so unbelievably happy that I got the birth I wanted, the way I wanted. I’ve watched my birth video over & over, and it amazes me every time seeing a bum come out first!


newborn breech vbac

newborn hospital breech vbac

 http://youtu.be/w_4RcBMI2OY

The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part V}

The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part V}

Yesterday, we shared the fourth part of Rose Homme’s HBA2C story. In this five-part series, she shares her journey to home birth: the emotional ups and downs, the pain of her first births, and how believing in herself and her body guided her through. Here, you can read (and watch) the HBA2C birth story of her daughter, Penelope!

“I woke and made Kyle Breakfast. Sylvia had a specific plan for his meal: two pancakes, one to represent Oliver’s head and one for hers. A dress made out of cheese and a cracker for Oliver’s shirt, and carrots for their arms and legs. After breakfast I proceeded to make our Father’s Day feast – we were hosting 16 people! I was done cooking by noon, and we spent the rest of the day in the pool with the kids.

That evening I was exhausted and sore from standing all morning. I went to bed super early (for me) at 9pm. I woke up the next morning with an, “Oh shit, I over did it yesterday, now I’m sore and can barely walk, I’m going to need a massage or something feeling!” But after I walked around a bit, my muscles loosened up. Around 8:30am I was getting intermittent tingly feeling on my cervix. I was unsure if this was early labor so was cautious to even acknowledge it. But when it was making me walk on my toes, I decided to give my midwife a heads-up. I called her and when I hung up, I actually had a little cry and told Kyle I thought it might be labor but felt so unsure and didn’t know my body. (looking back, this was clearly a sign it was actual labor.)

Since my plan was to ignore labor until I couldn’t ignore it any more, I still intended to take the kids to swimming lessons by myself. Right before we left, around noon, I changed my mind and had Kyle drive. It was a little uncomfortable driving there but not unbearable. I was still questioning if this was real labor or my mind playing tricks on me. Sue called to check in and I told her I was fine and had a contraction on the phone. She didn’t seem too concerned, and I was trying to downplay the pain, I didn’t want to over-exaggerate if it was early labor and could be going on for days. Through the kids’ lesson, I had to go to the front yard so I could moan and talk to myself. The instructor actually commented, “Are you having a baby today?” which made me feel good and think, hey maybe this is actually labor!

By the time the kids finished I was in the front yard on my hands and knees. I got in the car to go home and things got intense. We were listening to Jimmy Eat World, and I told Kyle to turn on a fast song and turn it up LOUD! I was hanging on the door trying to pull myself off the seat and singing/moaning through contractions. It was HOT, and I was tired. It was kind of perfect, looking back: Kyle was playing that same Jimmy Eat World album in his car constantly when we began dating when I was 17 (see picture!). Full circle, man.

We got home around 2pm. I turned on the air and tried to lay down. I couldn’t lay down, so I walked straight to the backyard, took off my dress and got in the pool. It was a little cold, so I stayed in the sun, resting my head on the railing, trying to sleep until the next contraction. Kyle came out to check on me. I was working really hard to be conscious and alert between contractions and acknowledge Kyle when he checked on me. I drank a glass of water and took a few bites of food – all things I didn’t do during Oliver’s labor.

It was painful, but manageable. I took one contraction at a time and rested in between. Every time I looked down and saw my bright pink toes poking out from my round belly, I couldn’t help but smile. As I continued to work through contractions, something beautiful and alive would catch my eye, and I would ask it for energy – the sunlight, clouds, or an abundant tree. I would also ask for the strength and power of all the women who’ve done this before me, and think of them by name, the women I know who have had natural births. I’d remind myself of the billions of women who have done this for centuries. But perhaps the most powerful thing was talking to the baby through the contraction, thanking her and acknowledging that she knows how to be born and reassuring her that I would listen to what she needs. I also talked to my body and reminded myself that my body knows how to have a baby.

I threw up. Kyle called Sue and she was on her way! When she arrived a few minutes later the first thing she said was, “It sounds like you’re pushing.” I didn’t even realize I was pushing – it just felt right and relieved pressure during contractions. I looked at her and said, “Only because I have to poop!” She put on her bathing suit to get in the pool. I love my Sue, she was ready to jump in and catch the baby! But when she put one foot in, she jumped out and said, “That’s too cold. We need to move you to the birthing tub in between the next contractions.”

To ensure we didn’t have a repeat of Oliver’s attempted VBAC, I had been telling myself the baby was ready to be born when we moved to the tub. My water broke before labor started with Oliver, so again to ensure I didn’t have the same experience, both Sue and I kept saying throughout this pregnancy that my water was not going to break – so in my head that meant baby would be born in the caul.

I got in the tub and as I pushed through the first contraction, my water broke. It was like a pop, and I was kind of shocked that it wasn’t the baby coming out. Then Sue checked me (for the first time this pregnancy) and I was sure the head would be right there. Again I was shocked when I could feel how far she could go before feeling baby’s head, another “Oh Shit!” moment. Then she said she could feel a lip, and I was like Oh. No. Not. A. Lip. What the hell!

My mind immediately went back to Oliver’s birth. I started to lose focus for a second and wasn’t sure what to do. Sue told me to just keep doing what I was doing. So I sat through one contraction, then I thought, Fuck it, I’m moving this baby down! Sue held back the lip and I pushed like crazy. I got a bit loud and unruly and was not being the most effective. Sue gently reminded me to focus my energy down below and try not to scare the baby with my screaming. That was what I needed to hear to get back to lower, more effective vocalization through my pushes.

I could hear in Sue’s voice that baby had moved down a bit, and this assured me that things were going to be different this time and we were making progress. My right leg started cramping so I was feeling the pain of that more than anything and really focusing to push through to the right place. I had to move around a lot to push through the leg cramps, so much that Kyle had to move out of the tub. I knew our baby was crowning when Sue commented on her long hair. It took another ten minutes get her completely out. This surprised me again, since I figured it would be like other stories I had heard where the baby just shoots out with two simple pushes.

Sue said, “She’s out to her eyebrows!” and I was thinking, Seriously! Her eyebrows?! Come on, Sue, just pull her out! I felt her move out more on the next push. Then I accepted we’d be sitting here forever, and all of a sudden she just flew out! Sue’s voice was so kind, encouraging, and gentle, and I was squealing with excitement. Kyle was able to get back in the tub and support me just before baby was born. It was incredible to be the first ones to hold our baby, and to have done it all together in our bedroom. Every part of the experience was unexpected and incredible! I’ve never felt so amazing in my life! I felt like I was in heaven. I couldn’t believe it was over and she was here… and it was still daylight!

I had meant to put a bottle of champagne in the fridge when labor started. But since I never acknowledged labor starting, that didn’t happen. Sue came prepared with two bottles and everyone was ready to celebrate! My brothers and sisters slowly showed up and we all toasted our ever-growing family. Penelope Rose was peacefully born at home in water at 5:25pm June 18, 2012. Our largest baby at 8lbs.

This birth experience healed old wounds and allowed me to put my past births into a new, healthier perspective. It was probably the most amazing experience of my life. It bonded our family on a different level, healed old wounds, and brought Kyle and I together stronger than we have ever been in our nearly 14 years together. I love my husband so deeply, but birthing a child together and sharing that moment is remarkable on a level that words can not explain. All of my children have taught me so much. My past birth experiences gave me the strength and courage to fight for this outcome, so with all my love I thank Kyle, Sylvia, Oliver and Penelope!

Something I learned during Penelope’s birth was that I could have had a very similar birth experience at a hospital. I could have labored at home almost as long and headed to the hospital when I threw up in our swimming pool. I didn’t need to be monitored or managed through that point and could have arrived at the hospital ready to push. That’s another great thing about an experienced doula: they should be able to judge transition and help you decide when when it’s time to go.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Birthing From Within are both great books and every woman should read at least one of them whether you are pregnant or not. We no longer have a society where we see our peers birth, so we don’t know what to expect or what a normal process is. These books can help familiarize you with what normal birth looks like – it’s not what is seen on TV or what is done to us in the hospital. Normal birth does not need to be managed. If you’re not getting what you need from your care provider, switch or get to a place where you can take what they say with a grain of salt. You’re paying them and quite frankly, you don’t need the bullshit. Limit your stress. I would say my OB was my leading cause of stress during my first pregnancy. If I had trusted myself and my body then the way I do now, I would have left or not let her comments effect me.”

The techno-medical model of maternity care, unlike the midwifery model, is comparatively new on the world scene, having existed for barely two centuries. This male-derived framework for care is a product of the industrial revolution. As anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd has described in detail, underlying the technocratic mode of care of our own time is an assumption that the human body is a machine and that the female body in particular is a machine full of shortcomings and defects. Pregnancy and labor are seen as illnesses, which, in order not to be harmful to mother or baby, must be treated with drugs and medical equipment. Within the techno-medical model of birth, some medical intervention is considered necessary for every birth, and birth is safe only in retrospect. 

― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Rose owns the natural baby store, Rosie Posie Baby, in Anaheim, California. You can read more about her and her family on her blog, Rosie Posie Baby.
The “Kinda Funny” Birth of Bennett

The “Kinda Funny” Birth of Bennett

The evening of July 3rd holds way to a big and beautiful full moon hiding behind overcastting-clouds that threaten the night with thunderstorms. I know it is big and beautiful because the night before was clear and the moon was so close to being full; I spent about an hour standing in my hallway gazing at the silvery glow that peaked through our picture window in the foyer, imagining my labor starting with this magical light shining down in the dark, stars present as witness to my baby’s beginning. This is the moon I have been looking forward to my whole pregnancy, one that I have anticipated for months to throw my body into labor. A close friend of mine had approached her 42 weeks date that day, and low and behold that moon really did kick her labor into gear. Luck be with me if that beauteous moon would do the same for me. I head to bed, hopeful for what the night and that full moon might do for me.

I wake up with a contraction on that day, the Fourth of July, wanting for the firecracker baby that I “felt” for months was coming. “Yes, I knew it,” I thought. I was quickly approaching 40 weeks myself, and I don’t generally get too far from my estimated due date before giving birth, so this was totally possible. I had been having prodromal labor for several weeks at this point, my darling midwife even gave me a false labor remedy to help me out in the “there are too many contractions to stay well rested” department. That elixir really did the trick for me to stop contractions many times in my third trimester, but today I didn’t want annoying contractions to be “annoying,” I wanted them to move this baby out of my body.

I’m pretty sure I jinxed myself.

The day rolls on like any other day; a country fair is in town this week, so we pack the kids up and go despite the heat warnings and it being as hot and muggy as hell. Stepping outside of the air conditioned house was like walking into the mouth of summer, the thick air swallowing you down and the sun’s rays burning deep into your skin as it consumed you. The weather got the best of us, so we decided to head to a movie to beat the heat.

On our way to the theater I decide there are a few things I need to pick up for my impending labor; upon checking out at the register I became immensely satisfied with the deal I got, and went into the movie feeling really good about my purchase, “it IS for my labor after all, why shouldn’t I be excited?” We watch Brave together as a family; our boys’ very first movie theatre experience, one which I owe to them to give my full attention to while they react to the big screen, forgetting my labor intentions for those few hours. As soon as the movie is over, we decide immediately that we deserve dinner out; thinking we probably won’t get another family outing for dinner anytime soon. Soon!! I sort of forgot all about the baby coming, and now, NOW, all those irritating contractions are not exactly doing much. Not doing anything. Whatsoever.

We enjoy the rest of our evening child-free as our kids have fallen asleep earlier than normal. They do a lot of that on these hot summer days. I’m having contractions here and there, but I fear they are achieving nothing short of driving me insane. Contracting like this is physically exhausting, and it is mentally draining to constantly be aware of my uterus and it’s potential intentions. “Could be, should be labor… when will this pick up? Will it pick up? I’m ready for this to happen already…” my mind whips around every thought, scrambling my brain about. These contractions continue throughout the night and well into the next day until I finally cave-in and take the false labor remedy.

I swallow the cool, tasteless drops of clear fluid down, raising a white flag in my head to surrender. I was really hoping for that Fourth of July baby, and despite the contractions, it just wasn’t our time yet. “Not our time yet,” I let the words circle my mind before I wrap my head around the idea that I was wrong for all those months about the full moon putting me into labor. “What else can I be wrong about?” I worry, I put a lot of hope and planning into this baby’s labor and birth and I really want this home birth to be my most amazing birth yet, and I desperately want to know how and when everything will happen and who this baby is. An overwhelming urge to “know more” strikes me dead in my shoes. “Something must have been happening from all those contractions,” I think, “I should check my cervix. I bet you something is happening right under my nose.” An uncomfortable and physically-breathless reach up into my birth canal yields the information I am seeking; I am fully effaced and maybe about a fingertip dilated. Sigh.

Actually, it’s not much change since the last time I had checked the week before, so I decide that seeking knowledge about the state of my cervix is no longer something I want to do to my head, I simply can’t handle the mystery of the cervix, mentally. What will be, will be, with or without my knowledge of how things will play out. That and reaching up inside my body for the hope of a little insight is incredibly uncomfortable. “Let it be, mama, this is out of your hands.” The words ring like the dull strike of a gong through my head, and I decide at this moment to just carry on and soak up the last days of mothering two, however many days that may be. The rest of Thursday comes and goes, and Friday as well. “Relax, embrace,” I chant to myself every time I start feeling like I can’t take the unknown anymore.

Midday Saturday proves to bring some hope for me, or so I think. I wake up feeling like “today is the day,” but as usual, I’m not 100% sure. I start cleaning the house top to bottom, because I feel like I need to do something, I just feel anxious and antsy waiting for something to happen. If history proves right, I should at least be in early labor it’s a Saturday, both of my previous labors started on a Saturday. Dave and Victor make a bank run and return with a bouquet of red roses for me. Dave tells me the story; my sweet first-born son told his daddy that “mommy needs these flowers, today.” He is so right; I think how beautiful they will be in my bedroom as I give birth, so I fetch a green glass vase and fit the roses in. They smell so sweet. With that addition to my birthing atmosphere, ready is an understatement. I’m feeling fierce and ready for this labor to start, on this fine Saturday, but I am quickly robbed of that strong feeling as the uncertainty about when or if I am in labor strikes me down in the following moments.

The urge to pee sends me darting to the toilet to relieve my ever-so-squished bladder and to my surprise I find a decent amount of pink show on the toilet paper. A massive wave of confusion crashes over my body, “there has been no difference in contraction intensity or the way the contractions make me feel, yet I’m having bloody show?” Once upon a time in a different birth story, bloody show let me know I was, for sure, in labor, and contractions continued to bring us a beautiful baby within eight hours of that first “show.”

But on this particular wipe of toilet paper there is bloody show but I don’t know what it means, “how can I?” I’ve only had three contractions so far into the day, which is not how I expect bloody show to appear. Even in my first birth, this much bloody show began to appear around eight centimeters dilated; this volume which I am experiencing right now, happened to appear just before I pushed a baby out– and I am NO WHERE near ready to push a baby out. Confusing? Is it ever!! But I am far more excited to see what it means, and that momentarily drowns out my confusion. “Eek” doesn’t do my excitement justice as I text my midwife and photographer, and of course my best friend Lauren. *Something* is happening, I think.

Hours pass by, with little to no difference in contraction intensity or frequency; one here, one there, and they’re nothing to write home about. I feel defeat as I repeat text messages to my birthing team that nothing actually seems to be happening, except some more bloody show. Random contractions appear at times, ones that I can feel deep and low that tug on my hips but none of them make me stop and cope. This is so bizarre, where is my labor? I desperately want need to know that 1.) I am *for sure* in labor and 2.) if I am not in labor, is this bleeding ok? I quickly answer myself before I let the anxiety of “is my baby ok” take over. “Yes, this bleeding is light and mucousy, trust yourself, Christine. Trust your body. Trust your body. TRUST IT. TRUST.” I breathe in while chanting my affirmation and close out the world, I can feel a contraction coming on and I so very badly want to FEEL it. “Make me need to cope through this, please, I want to have to cope through this one, pleeeease,” I beg my body, beg the Goddess of Labor, beg whoever it is that is pulling on the strings of the universe to bring this baby earthside; “please just let me know this is really happening.”

I will my body as I feel my belly firming with the surge, to open and embrace the depth of my core as it presses my baby against my cervix, I want so badly for this to happen. Yet, when the contraction is over I feel empty handed, and I have been denied once again. “Chin up, this will happen, your baby will come out.” The baby will come out, the words take one more jog through my head, the baby will come out, and suddenly I want to get sick as a wave of butterflies tingles from my head to my toes. Instead, I sit on the toilet and I find my bowels churning in response to anxiety, an anxiety that I’ve been feeling for several weeks now. “I have to give birth to this baby,” the reality sets in as my body is doing its work now, and the butterflies continue to dance across my body at the mere thought of laboring and birthing for some unknown reason. Even with how badly I want to know whether or not I’m in labor, I am having some serious anxiety about giving birth despite having done this twice before and knowing everything will be ok. “Why now? Why feel anxiety about giving birth now?” I can’t answer myself.

The evening passes slowly and I stop trying to embrace contractions. Nighttime falls upon the house, and after the kids are off to bed I start getting things together for the seemingly imminent birth, even though my midwife is in no hurry to come over. “Call me if anything happens,” she responds. I’m glad she’s relaxed about it, she knows birth is normal and that I am not in real labor. I wish that *I knew that*, sure all the signs seem to point to “no” but I still feel like something is up. My fear is that this birth will happen without her here; I just want her nearby if I need her, or worse, if the baby needs her after birth. Going up to our bedroom to settle in feels disappointing, but I try to keep my head in a good space, reminding myself that this WILL happen.

“I’m having a shower,” I inform Dave like there is some magical power in those words, a magical power that will make my contractions pick up. He is busy watching YouTube videos on his iPod, giggling like an immature teenage boy, “enjoy it!” he says through his chuckles. I roll my eyes and undress in front of our bathroom mirror. My hands caress my large belly, “who are you, little one?” I ask as I gaze at my gigantic midsection and then close my eyes, imagining the moment that I first lay eyes on my baby, wet on my chest. I can feel tears well-up in my eyes; I love this baby no matter who they are, but I so desperately want to know, now.

A moment passes and as I exhale I open my eyes and see my shower is ready, the steam is beginning to pour out of the door. “Ahhhhhh,” the warmth of the water immediately relaxes me as I let the hot water hit my lower back, my shoulders, my hair as I step backwards towards the jet. It feels like a warm blanket around my body, tingling as the constant stream of water droplets strike and run down my skin. My inner monologue takes over and I think to myself that the most difficult part of the day is admitting I haven’t been in labor; I really thought today was it and, well, here I am still pregnant sliding my soapy fingertips over my still-gestating belly. Sigh

There is only so much heat I can take in the shower before I start feeling thirsty, my body’s sign that it is time to get out, so I listen and pat myself dry. The towel doesn’t quite make it around my body anymore these days, “I miss wrapping a towel around me and wearing it around the bedroom as I cool off,” I think to myself; as much as I love love love being pregnant, I’m ready for all the little advantages of not having a giant belly to return with this birth. A few minutes pass after I dress in a non-fitting night gown; it’s time for bed so I text Aimee, our photographer, and Lauren to let them know that if anything happens through the night they will be the first to know to come over. I don’t bother texting Laura, the midwife; because she knows that I won’t have her miss anything either, no need for me to admit defeat to her as well.

I’m surprised at how well I sleep, I have a few contractions throughout the night, but I feel incredibly well rested. I decide to text Lauren when I wake up. It’s about 5:45 in the morning, and she’s obviously been sleeping with one ear open because she responds right away. I invite her to come over whenever she gets ready. I am determined that I will need her support today, that this baby is coming TODAY…

…but I wish I knew that for sure; “I don’t.” I joke with her, because if this IS labor, it is nothing like I have experienced before, and it feels like a “joke” compared to my other labors. I text Aimee to let her know she didn’t miss the birth, I know she is waiting anxiously as well. Lauren and I are able to spend some time together chatting in the morning; it is so nice having a quiet house and her there with me to fill the space with while the rest of the house is asleep. “I miss this kind of us time.”

A trip to the bathroom rewards me with losing a lot more bloody show, which I excitedly make Lauren look at; good thing this is her third time experiencing labor with me, I don’t know how many child-less girlfriends you could make come look at your findings on toilet paper. I text Laura, I’m very excited about this bloody show even though I have only had a few contractions since the last time we exchanged texts, despite this being exactly how the day before started. She tells me that everything sounds good, that I sound really good, and to let her know when I feel active.

I really like her language.” *When* I feel active,” she must believe I am in labor today, YES! Now, where are my contractions…? I can’t have a baby without contractions.” All I can think of is that I need to get in the zone. I can’t start laboring until I get in the zone. “Everyone must leave, I can’t do this with three kids running around, my brother saying dumb things to me all day and distracting my husband from his role as my birth partner.”

I call my dad to come take the boys away, because I can’t focus on laboring, he thinks there is some rush to it even though I tell him to take his time. I tell my brother he has to go with my dad also, and take Chloe with him, if not, they need to be calm and quiet so I can focus on finding my zone and getting in it. I don’t know how far along I am but, I am starting to feel certain that our baby is going to be born today, and that my contractions will start at some point and, yes, today is the day. I think.

Everyone leaves after almost two hours of putzing around and me dropping hints to just leave. A few moments pass by, and suddenly I don’t know what to do with all this quiet time, so I paint my nails a fresh clear coat. Lauren and I decide to go for a walk, but first I want to get ready. I straighten my hair and put my labor hair band on, I find a fuchsia colored tank top and black shorts so at the very least I look put together. I even layer on a quick coat of mascara, and at the last second we decide I need to paint my toenails as well, we laugh through the whole thought that “this” is my labor. It seems like a joke, “this must be a joke, who spends their labor painting their nails and getting ready like they’re going out on a date?” We laugh it off as Lauren and I go down the stairs and tell Dave we are heading outside to go for a walk. As soon as I set foot in the garage I decide that I need to install the baby’s carseat, then we can go for our walk. “All these little things that I need to do to prepare for the baby… here I am doing them the day I am going to have the baby.”

We don’t get far before Lauren has a coughing fit from allergies that sends us home for water, we laugh at the irony at who has to quit the walk first. Instead of heading back out and hiking the hill behind the house like I joked on our way back to the house, I send Dave out for a bagel, it’s all that I really want right then and there, he does what I ask and returns to find me sewing baby wipes from old onesies at the table. I happily eat my bagel, and save the second one for later; every time I eat I go running for the bathroom to empty my insides, so I am trying not to eat too much at a time, but I’m pretty hungry throughout the day.

Normally I quit eating after things “get real” in labor, and I just don’t know if it’s getting real or not, so I eat when I need to. Suddenly I have a contraction that I have to stand for; I can’t sit through it on my chair sewing, clearly seen by the edging of the now-crooked wipe I was sewing when the contraction came on. “This is really low, and long, come to think of it.” After talking it through with Lauren and noting that the last contraction was nearly 90 seconds long followed by a good swipe of bloody show on the toilet paper, that I should call the midwife.

Our conversation is satisfying to me; I tell her that even though I don’t really have active labor contractions, I’m afraid that if I wait to feel active before calling her that she won’t make it. Laura reassures me that I know my body and that if I think it’s time for her to come she will come, and if I’m not very dilated then we’ll worry about that later; she did mention that the false labor remedy also has an ingredient in it that will help promote labor if my body is IN labor (it’s funny how homeopathics work like that) and that I could take several drops under my tongue to try to help bring on contractions. There isn’t a rush for her to leave, so she told me she’d see me in about two hours, given her distance, and I was pleased to hear it. I take the remedy with satisfaction; the last time I took it was to stop annoying contractions, this time is different, to help labor come. Bring.it.on.

I decide to try and rest, but I’m too excited for that so I quickly change my mind and decide on a warm bath with my new aromatherapy bath foam, purchased the other day before our movie. I take a good long look in the mirror for the first time today, and realize that my nose looks kind of funny. It looks like it has spread, and kind of elongated a bit. It feels really “loose” and squishy instead of firm at the tip. “How odd.” I shrug it off, because even if it means something, that “something” is not worth the energy of figuring out what it is. I draw the bath and change into a bathing suit top; it matches my headband, I hadn’t planned on this top but it was nice to have something to hold my breasts up instead of remaining entirely naked and hanging. I turn on my meditation music and light my candles, one is surrounded by my blessing way beads and one is a candle for energy, orange ginger.

My roses look lovely and welcoming to my birthing space, they are more open today than yesterday, of course. “Of course, they are more open today, how fitting,” I think. Everything is ready in the room, in my birthing space; “now I’m ready, for this labor to start.” I text Aimee, leaving the situation so that she knows she may wind up going home without shooting the birth. She arrives about an hour later and starts snapping pics. All we can do is laugh until Laura comes to provide me with some insight on what is going on with my body.

Why is this so funny? All the jokes are on me, if this really is labor, WHAT THE HECK!? Who has no real labor as their labor!? We joke, and just laugh. I get my friend Kate on FaceTime; I want her “here” with me as the baby is born, so I tell her to be on standby.

But it just doesn’t feel real, none of it does, “be on standby for what? This is the most absurd labor ever, it can’t be happening,” I laugh to myself after I hang up with Kate. Laura arrives shortly after that and suddenly I find myself dreading the vaginal exam that I have been waiting on for the past two hours. “Here it comes, time to face the music.” I glance at the clock; it’s about 4:15 pm, while I watch Laura’s face as we awkwardly meet for the exam of my cervix, the first time this pregnancy. Her expression seems unsettling, and not so much confused as wanting to be sure of herself as she asks me to sit my butt up on my fists so she can get a better “feel” for what she is thinking, and then she gently removes her gloved hand and tells me confidently with a chuckle in her voice… that I am fully dilated.

HOLY SHIT.

We can’t stop laughing, and I am in total shock. “I don’t feel ready to have a baby,” my heart races at the mere thought. I can’t get over this. I JOKED about this; all these phony baloney contractions actually doing something and then I’d just slide a baby out. God, I am so glad we decided to call Laura to come. But… now what? “What is the baby’s station,” I ask Laura hoping to hear there is at least some work for me to do, and she tells me the baby is sitting at a zero. That makes sense because I haven’t been feeling diddly-squat other than low sensations, and not full on pressure like you would if you labored to a 10.

This is insane,” and I can’t stop laughing, and now, I’m cursing! “What a fu*king joke! Now what am I supposed to do? How long have I been fully dilated for? WHEN did that happen? WHAT THE FU*K!? What the actual fu*k just happened with my body?” I’m absolutely blown away. And now I have to have a baby, some “zone” to get into… The only question in my mind is how do I do this when I didn’t do anything to get to a 10? I had no labor to prepare me for pushing life out of my body, no work to earn a reward.

And for the first time in three pregnancies I genuinely don’t know what to do, and my mind scrambles to try and figure this out. I text Kate with the news and she laughs, a lot. Inner monologue takes over and I need to zone out the party that is happening in the bedroom. I need to move this baby down, let’s do this baby, come down, think: “open, down, embrace this baby into the world.” It sounds like a good plan, but all I can do is keep laughing, and saying “how the hell did this happen.” I feel pretty foggy about it all.

We have a few more laughs, I have a few more contractions, ones that seem to be giving me pressure, but still, they don’t feel like active labor contractions. All of this, the whole situation, leads me to feeling emotionally wiped out and physically exhausted, so I do what I know is right and lay down for a rest. I can’t fully grasp how much time goes by, but it feels like forever, even though I know it’s not. The contractions start to intensify as my baby is moving down little by little, and I need to get into better positions to get more comfortable during them.

I don’t really know how much time has gone by, but I do know I NEED to pee, so I get up and go, my napping time is over. I am frustrated with all of this. I’m not feeling any type of “zone,” I feel like labor sprung up on me, and I’m not finding any of my prior knowledge to birthing helpful in the least. The only thing I know for certain is that I just want this to be over; the emotional exhaustion of all the wondering, feeling like my body mocked my brain with going against everything I knew about laboring before, laughing hysterically with my room full of people, then napping… none of this is what I genuinely pictured for my first home birth; now I just want it to be over.

There’s a voice in my head that tells me to ‘lose the attitude; this birth is going perfectly, stop being a brat about it, and embrace your baby’s worldly entrance.” This voice of reason is right. I need to get a grip and just let this be what it will be. Not long after this moment of clarity do I find myself finally feeling active, I have a contraction that lets me know for sure that this baby is leaving my body TODAY, finally, I need to cope through a contraction. I let out a long, low groan from the bottom of my lungs. “This baby feels big,” I note to myself as it feels like my pubic bone is being separated a greater distance than I felt before, slowly. Another contraction comes quickly, I try different positions to get comfortable for it, and I know for sure that I can’t use the birthing stool for this birth; we laugh about the fact that my butt hurts from the pressure, and no other part of me feels any discomfort from this baby nearly ready to make their appearance. “I’ve got this,” I think to myself after having a laugh with my party.

I’m up, I’m down. I am trying to find out where to reside as I birth, what position I need; I’m answering something that feels very instinctual as I wind up on my elbows and knees, forehead to the ground. I get up on my hands and find myself rolling my hips back and forth, to and fro, head hanging loosely as I’m facing the ground. Something primal emerges from me; minutes go by as my body does this rolling and rocking. It feels like an out of body experience; this isn’t “me” coping, this is my body doing something as age-old as mankind. Dave places his warm hands on my hips, giving me all of the strength he can into my pelvis as he counteracts the pressure he knows I am feeling. “Lower,” I grunt. He obliges without saying anything. He doesn’t want to disturb my zone, the one that I have been looking for all day.

I can hear, feel, a low growl from my throat, my eyes are open yet out of focus, gazing at something yet looking at nothing but the blue sheet my body is straddling over. I feel sweat start to drip from my forehead finding their way to the ground. A cool, wet bead draws a piercing-cold line on my sweltering skin as it slowly trickles from the back of my neck to the front, landing on my hand as my body continues to sway from side to side. The shock of that single droplet brings me back to reality; I find myself on the floor of my bedroom at the foot of the bed, there in front of the mirror with everyone watching my reflection intently. My eyes focus back into my surroundings, the people in my room quietly and lovingly watching me in amazement. They all know something miraculous is about to happen. “I feel ‘pushy,'” I announce to everyone as if they didn’t already know. Suddenly, my body is moving this baby down and out.

The warm squishy bag of waters that has been protecting my baby through this whole ordeal is now stretching my birth canal, stretching it so fast that it starts to burn a little. My body is pushing this baby out, NOW. I am ready, but I need Kate. I need her there. “Please, can I have the iPad;” someone hands it to me, I don’t know who, but I do know everyone is looking at me with laugh in their eyes, like “is she serious?” I am, very serious, but I can’t focus enough to find the call button. A contraction comes, my body is pushing and this baby isn’t moving much more than a few centimeters as my uterus clamps down. I pause and breathe in deep when it’s over as I come to my senses and think back of where I found the call button when I called her earlier. “Ok,” I say, “I’ve got this.”

It starts ringing, thank GOD and she answers. I feel so relieved to see her face pop up, although I’m not sure she was fully prepared to see my vulva as soon as she answered. I tell her “it’s time to push,” but then I announce to everyone that I can’t do this on my feet, I can’t squat through this, my ass hurts too much, there is just too much pressure. “This is so intense, this baby is big. This baby is big. I know it, I can feel it. This baby is COMING NOW,” the thoughts race through my mind as I watch my expanding vulva in the mirror.

But this baby isn’t coming right now, I know I have to get on my back, or my butt might just fall out of itself. I chuckle to myself as I think of the irony that has played out throughout the day. Dave and Laura help me get adjusted on my back, spread eagle in front of this giant mirror. “Finally, I am ready, let’s do this baby.” I glance around my space. My candle is getting low, dripping wax now off of the dish it’s standing on, I am surrounded by my friends’ love and wishes through the beautiful array of beads they sent. They are symbolically surrounding me as I prepare to finish this labor with the birth of my baby.

My legs start shaking uncontrollably, “I need to push this baby out, I need to PUSH, my body can’t do this alone.” There in the mirror I see the baby’s bag starting to bulge out of my body, I can feel the friction of the bag inside of me so I push with the surge of power my body is providing. The bulging bag bursts water all over the bottom of the mirror and takes us all by surprise, but my face does not change. I watch intently and pause as my body takes a break, but resume rather quickly with the next contraction, I raise my butt off the ground to relieve the pressure off of my tail bone. “Gosh this baby feels big.”

“Look at that,” I think to myself, watching as my baby slowly begins to emerge is completely breath taking; I am in utter awe of my body. I can’t take my eyes off of my baby’s head, slowly (actually, not slowly at all) coming into this world. In just one contraction I see a beautiful round head take shape after the head bones fall back into place. My body desperately needs help to eject this baby; all I can do is answer it with another push.

Laura attempts to have me slow down to remove the baby’s nuchal cord, but I simply can’t. There is too much pressure and my body is really trying to move this baby out. I shriek, “I can’t!!” and push along with my body as the baby is turning to continue being born. “It’s ok, keep going then,” she says. “Good,” I think, “there was no way I was stopping.” And just like a giant exhale, my body releases the baby’s shoulders with a massive sigh of “Oh, thank God” from me as I feel the pressure immediately lighten from my thinly-stretched perineum.

I notice that Laura is sort of giggling; she tells me that it looks like I need one more push. “What!? The baby didn’t just slide out?” I think to myself. So I give one more push for the now-obvious chubby hips of my baby to be born. Just like that, Dave hands me a big wet slippery baby, smiling away. It felt like such a long, long process, in actuality it was a mere five minutes since I announced feeling pushy. And then I see in the mirror, the answer to what I’ve been curious about since the first faint pink line appeared on my pregnancy test.

 “Oh, you ARE a boy,” I whisper to my new son, “and you are so BIG!” I tell him, as if he knew any different.

Emotions overcome me; this baby is stunning, and so chubby. I am so in love with him. I can’t help it, my eyes well-up. This is the child I prayed for, he is here, he is screaming a loud shriek worthy of only a third-child’s lungs, he is whole and perfect in one thousand ways. He is US, he smells like “us,” like our scent when we make love. “Why hadn’t I ever smelled this before? Is it because the other two weren’t born in our home, the smell of the birth center interfering with the smell of us??” All these thoughts are running through my head. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is soaking it all in right now. “Hi Bennett!!” I say to him. My perfect third baby, a son. No, I’m not surprised; a true surprise would have been a girl; it seems to be that boys are what Dave and I make. Here he is; he is here, I am so relieved. I look at Dave, he is crying, I look over at Kate on the iPad screen and she, too, is crying. We all just witnessed this completely amazing thing… even me, for the first time, in front of the mirror. I can’t believe my own eyes, what I just saw my body do.

Lauren has to leave rather quickly; staying for the birth made her late for work, and she must go. I am ever-grateful to her; her presence is, as usual, something supportive. But my work is not done; I still have to deliver a placenta that I know is large. Bennett and I shift around trying to get comfortable, waiting for the placenta to arrive, I try out the birth stool to see if that helps take pressure off of my bum. I feel fierce, I am high, I just did this amazing awesome thing and have this breathtaking child in my arms as a result.

We find comfort once again on the ground and the placenta is born with a small push, a wave of warmth overcomes me as it leaves my body. It’s time to cut Bennett’s cord; “you’re on your own now,” Dave tells his newest son as he pinches the limp, white rope of vessels between the blades of the scissors.

The rest of the evening whizzes by; I shower and change while Dave holds our baby. There is something amazing about watching a father become him, this man I love, even for the third time. I smile at him, gazing at the brand new face to discover and memorize. I check myself out in the bathroom mirror; standing is quite a feat as my organs try to reorganize themselves with their re-found space now that there isn’t a giant baby in the way. I dress quickly and get myself situated while Bennett is checked out; I’m anxious to get to his measurements. Picking up my phone, I see my father wants to know what time to bring the boys back. “Crap! I haven’t told him I was actually having a baby! The way I was when he left, he’ll never believe that I had the baby!”

“Hi dad,” I say to him with excitement in my voice, “I just had a baby boy, Bennett Marco, yes, everything went fine, we are both well. Tell them they have a new baby brother! Can you bring them back around 9:30? Ok see you then,” I have a brief conversation with my dad. “Now, back to business.”

I find glee in knowing already that he is a brute, but I want to know how much of a brute he really is. We all take guesses, but none of us are right. He is a whopping 9 pounds and 4 ounces of pure delicious chubby boy. He was born a full 18 ounces heavier than our other two babies, and I felt every ounce of difference. I managed no tears or damage whatsoever, less a sore bottom.

I thank Laura and her student Amy as they pack up and leave, spewing instructions and tips as they scan the room for anything they might have missed. Aimee spends a few more minutes with us for some pictures, then leaves. I know already that she did an amazing job; I can’t wait to see our pictures. We eat while we wait for our older children to return; my dad brings the big brothers back, fast asleep. Tomorrow we start the day as a family of five.

More here!

 

Mom of 9 Supports Her Daughter’s First Birth {Birth Video}

Mom of 9 Supports Her Daughter’s First Birth {Birth Video}

I received this beautiful email and video from Tracy and of course want to share!

“I absolutely love your website, FB page and everything related to birthing without fear. I am a mom of 9, gave birth to 6. I’m a doula, midwifery student and am a HUGE advocate of natural birth. My last birth a year ago was a plan unassisted at home with my husband and kids and it was amazing! My 23 year old daughter recently gave birth at home with a midwife and her assistant. She was almost 2 weeks past due. She would have had an almost perfect birth if it weren’t for the fact that baby aspirated meconium and ended up transferring to the hospital.

I think it’s important for women (especially young women) to see this and know that our bodies are designed to birth our babies without the multitudes of interventions that society has to offer. And as much as we plan for the birth that we desire, things do happen, but this ending is an amazing one….a blessed momma and baby…healthy and all. Enjoy!”

Peaceful Home Water Birth in Small Town Ohio {Must Read!}

Peaceful Home Water Birth in Small Town Ohio {Must Read!}

If anyone had asked me, prior to having my first child, if I thought I would prefer birth over pregnancy, I would have called them crazy. Now, after my second child and two completely different birth experiences, I have to say I would rather give birth than be pregnant any day. I never really enjoyed being pregnant. I envied the beautiful round bellies of my mama friends who never lost their lunch of crackers and water, or who wouldn’t know round ligament pain if it bit them in the bum.

I was looking forward to the birth of our first. It couldn’t be nearly as long and uncomfortable as pregnancy, right? Our son Maks was born in a women’s hospital, at 38 weeks and two days, after 35 hours of ruptured membranes. He was caught by a kind and caring, although completely overburdened, midwife. It was grueling. I never once got on top of it. Labor was on top of me the entire time. My husband did all he could to support me, but I was on a ledge, ready for the fall. So, when we found out we were pregnant with our second, it wasn’t a matter of whether we should have a home birth, but simply where we would put the birth pool.

When we moved near my hometown when our first was four months old, I dove headfirst into the natural birth community that, surprisingly, was alive and thriving in small town Ohio. I learned so much about how birth could be from ladies who not only did it themselves but now live it, teach it, and most importantly BELIEVE in it. My husband, always knowing that’s what he wanted for me, jumped on the home birth wagon with no hesitation when we found out I was pregnant again. I had met our midwife Delphine many months prior at a Birth Social, put on by a local childbirth educator, so I called her right away.

The months ahead involved lots of yoga, eating well, practicing The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, preparing our home for birth and loving my family of three for as long as I could. Since our first came early, I naturally assumed our second would also make an early entrance. Why I assumed this, I do not know. Week 38 came and went, as did 39 and 40. We started to try some natural induction techniques, but only because we were so very ready to meet our baby. Deep down, I knew that baby wasn’t coming until it was good and ready.

For some reason, week 41 was a breeze, and I wasn’t as miserable as everyone assumed. I was sleeping like the dead and lying on the couch for a large majority of my day. But Jordan and I were both just so excited for labor and delivery. We had spent so much time and energy making sure everything was ready. The house was clean, the birth box was stocked, and I was primed for birth. Since I hadn’t gotten an ultrasound or had the regular pelvic exams, we had no idea if it was a boy or girl or if I was effaced or dilated. But I knew we were healthy, so we just had to wait for the baby to give the go-ahead.

On Tuesday, July 24th, we went on a much needed date, hoping to get those love hormones flowing. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I started contracting. Ten minutes apart and manageable. We thought for sure it would happen that night. We gave the birth team a heads-up, and I went to bed on a tummy full of filet mignon, still contracting. They woke me up a few times throughout the night, but in the morning they had basically stopped.

Our Assistant Midwife Holly called to tell me that she was going to take a friend to the airport and see her kids out of town the next day. She was going to stay overnight, but could come back if I called. She said if I went into labor that night or the next morning, she wouldn’t go. I told her that was fine, even though I didn’t mean it. I had a strong feeling that Holly would play a very important role in my labor and delivery, and the thought of her not being there made me want to barf. I knew I needed her energy in that room.

At ten minutes to six the next morning, I woke up to a strong contraction. I headed to the bathroom and felt that oh-so-familiar feeling of peeing my pants. Water broke. I woke Jordan and he immediately went to work to finish up some critical projects before we got on with the day. I went back to bed and sent some texts to the birth team. Another heads-up, but this time it was all systems go. Contractions came on pretty strong after that, but I stayed in bed, knowing that, if I got up, contractions would come on stronger.

I wanted to give our son and birth team more time to sleep, assuming we would all be in it for the long haul. I couldn’t sleep so I prepared for the day. Looking back, I think that time alone was critical. I breathed deeply and relaxed through each wave, visualizing how the contractions would grow more and more intense as my baby moved down. I wasn’t afraid. I was so very ready.

The midwife asked if I would like her to come. I said no, and she asked that I call back at nine. We had a leisurely breakfast, and everyone got showered and dressed. I had two eggs over medium and millet toast. It felt like Saturday morning, with that slow, sleepy pace things have when you know you have nothing else to do. But you could feel the excitement brewing. I couldn’t stop smiling!

Maks and Jordan laid the tarp down and taped it to the floor, then brought in the birth pool and got it ready. Delphine wanted Holly to lay eyes on me and check the baby’s heartbeat, so she arrived at our place about 10:30. If everything looked good and contractions remained the same, she would check back at noon.

My best friend Julia pulled in right behind Holly to take over caring for Maks while Jordan and I labored together. Allie, our friend and birth photographer, was already there taking a few pictures. I was feeling pretty good at that point, still walking, talking and singing. Gillian Welch radio was playing on Pandora, and all of my favorite songs kept coming on. It was going to be a good day. A day that I assumed would be a long one. But a fun one, like a party (minus the booze!). But after Holly arrived, things really started to pick up.

We’d spent days prior getting everything ready so that the only thing that needed to be done was filling up the birth pool. I asked Holly if we should fill it up. She shrugged and suggested waiting. Holly listened to the baby’s heartbeat through some contractions and checked my blood pressure. Everything looked great. Jordan and I lit our candles from the Blessingway and spent a few moments in our room together. Contractions were getting heavy and fast. At 11:15, as I leaned over the EMPTY birth pool during a contraction, I felt a strong urge to vomit. I asked for a trash can, lost my breakfast, and said to Jordan, “Fill up the pool!” (insert expletive in there somewhere).

I was in transition. Wait, I was in transition? Not possible. I had just finished making breakfast and blow drying my hair. I couldn’t believe it. That’s when Holly called Delphine and told her she’d better get there fast. I managed to change clothes in between contractions and headed for the pool.

Meanwhile, Julia and Maks started to bake a birthday cake for the new baby. Maks was coming in and out of the room, asking me how I was doing and what was wrong. I told him that Mommy was just getting ready to have the baby and I reminded him about what we had talked about so many times in the months prior: that mommy would roar like a dinosaur to get his baby brother or sister out. He was doing great. I had clearly underestimated his ability to adapt. Or maybe just his ability to be distracted by macaroni and cheese.


I hit the water at about noon, and I knew I wasn’t leaving it until that baby was born. It felt amazing but it also really got things moving. Was that even possible?! I thought it was already going fast. During one of the first contractions in the water I told Holly I was feeling pushy. She called Delphine immediately for an ETA. Delphine was 40 minutes away, speeding with the radar detector on. Holly very quickly delivered her disclaimer that she had never attended a solo water birth, just in case it was go time and there was no midwife in site. I told her I didn’t care and that I trusted her.

Jordan was behind me applying counter-pressure to my backside during contractions. I received them on my hands and knees because that was the only position that made sense to me. In between each, I rolled over and floated weightlessly on my back, relaxing completely. It was quiet in my house. Everyone was talking softly, music was playing, and I was trying to stay focused and keep my breath down. I kept saying thing like, “I can do this. I was built for this.” It helped to hear it from my own lips. Jordan, my incredible, text book Bradley Method daddy, was amazing. I didn’t realize it until we saw the photos, but his hands never left me. They were on me the whole time. Maks came and went, spending a lot of this time playing with Julia outside. It was a solid 95 degrees that day so he was a sweaty mess. So much for that morning shower.

Delphine arrived at about 12:20. She stood there, just observing me and softly asking questions. She didn’t need to touch me to know where I was or how I was doing. She just observed and processed. In between contractions, she asked me to slip a finger in and see if I could feel a head. I felt SOMETHING but I wasn’t sure because it was so soft. She did a quick check and said I was ready to go except for a small lip. The soft thing I was feeling was the baby’s head molding through the cervix. So very cool.

Delphine was concerned the pool wasn’t warm enough for a baby, so everyone grabbed a pot and started to bail. I, of course, being the hot box that I am, didn’t want it hotter, but I was in no position to complain. At some point, they convinced me to get out of the water and go to the bathroom. It was the fastest bathroom break ever because I didn’t want to have even one contraction out of that tub. I came flying back into the living room, turned around, and just fell into the pool, sending a wave of water all over the floor!

The plan was that Jordan would catch the baby, but by then I knew I needed him at my head. I wanted to smell him, feel his breath on my face, and kiss him. At one point, in between contractions, he looked in my eyes and kissed me so passionately. It made my belly flip over just like our first kiss. Since that day, I haven’t been able to kiss him without remembering how that felt – how much he loved me at that moment, and every moment since.

I knew we were close. Holly applied pressure to my back and bottom as Delphine observed the signs of my labor. I remember only positive, encouraging words coming my way. No directions, no commands or fears being voiced. Just the growling sounds of me moving my baby down. I remember feeling every movement, every contraction felt so productive. I felt on TOP. I didn’t know what I was on top of … just above it all. That imagery helped me through each contraction. I knew I could handle it, I knew it would be over soon and we would meet our baby.

I felt the baby move past my tailbone, and the burn began. Delphine suggested I support my perineum with my hand, pushing the head away, to help me stretch gradually. This helped tremendously. Jordan wanted to feel what was going on down there, so he put his hand on the head for a couple contractions. Delphine explained how the tailbone raised and then flattened as the baby passed through and pointed out the purple lines that appeared on my backside. There was no impatience, no pressure. Everyone was calm and quiet as they quietly waited for my body to do its thing.

The pain intensified as contractions started stacking one on top of the other. I knew I needed to go slow but my body wasn’t in agreement. I was reminded by my team that my body needed time to stretch, but I simply couldn’t stop. I tried. A few grunts later, the head was out. Holly asked me to reach down and catch my baby. At 1:12pm, a little over seven hours in, I pulled this warm, pasty purple baby up through my legs to my chest.

I relaxed back on my back in the pool in complete disbelief. While Maks was being fetched from the yard, Jordan and I looked down below. A girl. A GIRL! I couldn’t believe it. She was absolutely perfect. Maks came in with a huge smile on his face. We said our hellos to her, smooched, and fell in love. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

The ladies couldn’t see through the water, so they asked me to move to the couch. I made it shakily to the couch and delivered the placenta while she nursed. Daddy and Maks cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. After some bonding time, I wanted my soft bed. Although it was only about 20 feet away it was a LONG trip. The baby was given a once-over and weighed by Holly: 8lbs, 10 oz. She was a big girl.

We cuddled in bed while the ladies got to work cleaning up, and Holly started the process of drying the placenta for encapsulation. I was brought some rice pudding and peanut butter crackers to get my energy up. I felt on top of the world. I was in disbelief but completely elated. I’d done it. I’d birthed my baby peacefully, in my home, with my family and close friends, into a state of grace. And she was perfect. IT was perfect.


We all cuddled in bed while baby girl nursed and got her first diaper. After, of course, she pooped all over me. I needed two stitches so she spent some time on Jordan’s bare chest while Holly and Delphine tended to my perineum. Soon we were all back in bed, basking in the afterglow of an amazing morning.

When I was pregnant and planning Edie’s birth, I remember thinking that I would feel like part of some elite club if I had an amazing home birth. That I would want to tell everyone I came across. But after it happened I felt a little bit selfish about it. It was so personal, so private. It was my daughter’s birth that I shared with my two boys and a very carefully selected group of women. What if telling everyone, making it public, somehow took away a bit of that special? But then I remembered one of the many reasons I wanted to have a home birth; so I could live it, teach it, and be that example to someone of how normal birth at home can not only happen but be absolutely beautiful.

All photographs by Allie Bennett. Watch the birth video on her site, here.

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