Browsed by
Category: Birth Stories & Pictures

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.

Sojourn’s Birth Story

Sojourn’s Birth Story

We thank Rachel for returning to the BWF blog and sharing her third birth story with us. Her first birth story is here, and her second is here.

One month ago, I was laying in bed with a tight round drum of a belly, snuggling a sweet Sparrow and her far-flung limbs. I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant, and every morning I would wake up with a strange delight that I made it through another night still pregnant. I didn’t mind going “over”; and despite my many despairs earlier in the pregnancy, I felt peaceful about relinquishing a year to change and finding a new rhythm. I loved the extra week I had to enjoy both of my already-born babies and to glory in the anticipation of meeting Baby Tarzan. I even got an extra week of work in!

I was lying on my side cradling these two babies, one outside and one within my body, when I felt my water gently break. It was around 7:45 a.m. The first thought I had was a pinch of disappointment that I was starting out with waters broken, but it also felt good to be waking up with fresh energy after a whole night of sleep. I sprang from my bed and dashed to the bathroom, crowing to Jonathan that something was finally happening. Getting up and moving caused more water to fall, soaking my basketball shorts; and almost immediately I had a very sharp, jagged contraction that made all the weeks and days of gripping my tightening belly during a practice surge and declaring, “Oh my! That was a hard one!” seem like a total joke. When it’s real, it’s unmistakably real.

I remember leaning over the bathroom counter and groaning, thinking I had to get my contacts in and find pants and text everyone! It was like one of those “choose two” diagrams. So I opted for contacts and texting, first apprising everyone that it would be “Sometime today probably,” and telling Katie to “get ready casually,” and then shortly after, revising the message to, “If you want to be here GET HERE NOW!”

There is some total silliness here that I wish were not part of my story, but I kept having to delete old texts out of my mailbox so I could read new ones, which was taking me forever because of course there are those texts I don’t want to part with, so I was scrolling back through months of old texts so I could delete them and read my new messages; and meanwhile the surges were already rolling in and slamming me and I felt impatient – couldn’t my body appreciate that I had to take care of some ward business before we moved on to the main speakers?

I was using all my brief in-between-surges time to text, and I still hadn’t found any pants; and this became more and more distressing to me as I realized people were almost going to be there, and I didn’t want to spend the next potential many hours pantsless. My phone kept chiming with messages and distracting me. It was absurd. I finally texted everyone one more time, a message I thought was clear and instructive, explaining that I couldn’t find any pants, and to text Jon. I had meant to text Jon if they had any more questions, but hilariously, a lot of people took it to mean that Jon wasn’t home and I needed his help. To find pants. Ha! So some of them began helpfully trying to locate him and inform him of my problems. “She needs pants, Jon! She can’t find any! Where are you?” I ended up just putting my wet basketball shorts back on, because I am hardcore, just like the pioneers.

I needed to be in my body and just with my body and stop trying to manage anything else. As soon as I tuned in I was surprised at how spicy the surges felt already, and I regretted my water breaking and removing the cushion that softened the edges. What I remembered from my surges during Sparrow’s birth was this delicate crescendo, like a musical scale of building pressure, a sharp, shrill peak and an ebbing away with kind relief. Instead of a musical scale, these surges felt like gut punches of peak-peak-peak-like someone leaning on a truck horn, blaring.

In a physical sense, it felt very loud in my body. I remember trying to quiet my mind down; to keep my body still and accept these sensations, but they seemed so strong already that it was difficult for me to connect with them. Part of me wanted to wiggle away and avoid them for a while longer. Another wise part of me remembered that there was no way out but through; and I told myself, “You can do this.” (“It’s a unix system…I know this.”)

1

Katie arrived and I wandered out to the living room to greet her; I tried to talk with her, but I had mostly already gone under and I’m sure it was a pretty spotty conversation. Chai woke up during this time and came out full of cheer and wonder when we told him that Baby Tarzan was coming today. He cupped my face in his tiny hands and told me he loved me, and he rubbed my back. My sweet boy! I always have a soft heart for my children, but when I’m in labor they just melt my soul and I want to cry warm buttery tears of pure love for their innocence and kindness. I know that sounds gooey, but it’s really how I feel towards them. They tenderize me with their tenderness.

Richelle and Shanlee were there with their serene excitement, and began the comforting bustle of setting things up. Richelle checked on the baby’s heart rate and explained she didn’t feel the need to check me because I seemed to be laboring well. A few more gut-punch surges and I moaned that I thought I would get more of a break in between, and asked to be checked. I was at 7.5 cm. Katie cheered for me. I started to feel perplexed about where my support people were; I’d made it this far completely untouched. I felt disoriented and confused. I wanted Jonathan to come be close to me, and I wanted the fearsome swelling pressure in my pelvis to go away. I was annoyed that the vacuum cleaner was in the middle of the floor and I disliked seeing it there whenever I opened my eyes.

They told me that the birth tub wasn’t ready and they weren’t sure it would be in time for me to have the baby; I said in that case I wanted to go labor in my room, and started to make my way there slowly. The surges were so fierce. I remember hanging onto the back of the couch and swaying my hips, and the midwife’s assistant Shanlee came and pressed on my back; it felt so merciful! I managed to walk into my room, arms wrapped around Shanlee and Jon, and when I got there I dropped to my hands and knees during a surge, and remained there for the rest of my labor – just collapsed on the floor between the wall and the bed.

2

Sparrow had been sleeping, tilted forward with her mane of wispy hair face-down on the pillow, but my moaning and humming woke her up. She was a little distressed and called out for me. I remember seeing her face pinched with worry to have all these strange people in her room, but she slipped off the bed and into my arms and I sat up against the wall and held her and submerged myself in that insistent tightness.

Mary and Diana were suddenly there, and their presence made me feel like a bright light had turned on. I was comforted just seeing them. My dear friends and sisters were floating in one by one. Kayte was near my face – such a warm and graceful presence. Laurel hugged me when she arrived; and even as deep as I was, I was so happy to see her! She was tearful and told me she had been sobbing in the car on her way to my house because she was afraid I would have the baby before she got there. I’m so glad that didn’t happen…I still have an ache in my heart from missing the birth of Laurel’s daughter, the only chance I could have had to support her as she has done for me so many times.

Magical doulas, knowing hands, they pressed against my knees; and even at that awkward angle, it relieved so much pressure! I felt like a broken doll whose limbs had come off and they were pressing them back into the joints. It was lovely, and I held my sweet girl against my belly; she was the perfect size to give me some counter-pressure against my abdomen. I was so grateful for her gentle resting there. She was utterly calm and seemed to understand some kind of solemnity about what was happening; she just clung tightly to me and whispered, “Mama. Mama. Baby?” and patted my belly and snuggled me.

3

Those moments are so precious to me. Whatever happens in the rest of my life and my relationship with Sparrow, if I never have another little daughter, if she grows up and despises me for awhile, whether or not I ever hold her while she has her own babies, we will always have that unbelievable pocket of time when she loved me and I absorbed her kindness with my raw, wide-open heart and it was so terribly sweet. My life – what an incredible piece of life to experience. I remember my sister Diana exclaiming, “I am never going to forget this! She is so beautiful!” Sparrow was somber, and tender, and just rocked with me.

I was locked into labordrive by then. I held onto my girl and smoothed her hair and her face over and over again; and when the surges came, I just tried to sink into them and let them be what they needed to be. No resistance; just acceptance and surrender. In my mind, I told myself, let them be; let them come. Sometimes I felt like vocalizing through them, and sometimes it felt okay to be still. I let every surge show me what was needed to work through it.

At some point, someone gently moved Sparrow away to get her ready to go to her grandparents’ and they helped me change into my skirt, which seems simple but in active labor that many movements can be overwhelming. Standing and moving my legs and then sinking back down took a lot of energy. Richelle let us know that the water wasn’t getting warm enough for baby and that we wouldn’t be able to use the tub. I was going to have a “dry land” birth. I remember feeling a little crushed that I wasn’t going to get to birth my baby next to the orange wall of my prophetic dreams, but it was alright; the creation of that space was still full of magic and healed me when I needed it.

I crawled forward and collapsed on my hands and knees again and my doulas circled around me. One of the things that touched me so much, looking at the photographs later, is that at every point of my labor there is a circle around me –whether it’s one or two people curled around my body, or six or seven performing those merciful acrobatics, I was completely cradled by these women. They are so powerful! Every single one of them believed in me, and every single one of them brought an energy of confidence and joy. I felt encircled by their laughter and open hearts; I could feel them melting at my children’s’ sweetness, feel them aching with me, especially those women who understand the poignancy of birth, I could feel empathy from their hands and strength from their muscles.

4

I realize that my experiences giving birth are probably the times I have been most able to release my concerns about reciprocity and social balance and just accept touch and holding and rescue; maybe that is why those moments are so dear to me – it’s not a natural space always in my life. Such kindness! Everyone deserves such kindness. I needed every single touch, every single hand. They talked to me, vocalized with me, which always makes me feel absurdly and childishly special; and laughed at my “labor jokes.” I wish I could remember some of them.

I remember being there on my hands and knees and seeing Sparrow’s dear little feet in front of me, as she hugged me and rubbed my neck and patted my head. She was my Littlest Doula. The pressure in my belly and pelvis was tremendous; this heavy pressure that sagged and stayed between surges. I tried lying on my left side, which I’ve never done in labor before, to see if that felt better, but it made me feel confined and a little panicky. My body wanted to be upright and grounded. I twisted a piece of my back in trying to get up, and clever Moh and Laurel or Laura rubbed it out. I asked if there was any way someone could support my belly, and some lovely gracious person found a rebozo. Oh, that sweet rebozo! They took turns standing and pulling up while the others squeezed my hips, pressed down on my shoulders and back. They had hot pads on my back and cold cloths on my neck. I was still present enough to describe and ask for what I needed. Such is the skill of my doulas that there were whole increments of time where they were working with such precision and energy that they took the entire brunt of a surge away. There were whole delicious spaces of 20 or 30 seconds I felt completely normal – even while experiencing surges.

5

Even with all the support, it was a fierce labor. I could feel every surge so hard in my belly and my hipbones. At one point I vomited in an act of desperation. I murmured, “I can’t” and Laurel told me, “You are.” I kept breathing, kept hanging on. I was missing Jonathan. I wanted him close to me and I could hear Chai squawking and I felt impatient. The surges were so ragged and so rough that at some point I asked for another check and Richelle declared that I was complete.

What?” I said. “How can that be? Don’t I still have to go through transition?” “You already did!” Everyone rejoiced but I was despairing because I didn’t feel like pushing at all and I was still tensing my body against that enormous swelling pressure. I pushed slightly hesitantly just to see what it felt like, if I could help my body along, and pushing felt so wrong and awful. So there wasn’t anything to do but wait. Finally, Jonathan came in the room and he said, “Hi Racher” and I bleated “Hey, Jon,” and I remember people laughing at this casual greeting in this dramatic scene. But I didn’t feel casual and I didn’t feel histrionic; I just needed him. I put out my hands and he dropped to the ground near my face. I grabbed his hands and squeezed, and he let me do it as hard as I needed to; it was simple, but it helped me so much.

6

I felt suspended. It was so hard to stay there, knowing I was close but having to endure being on pause until it was time to move on. At some point I tried pushing again and felt that familiar but still shocking sliding and widening feeling of the baby sliding down; warm, insistent, relieving. It was so vulnerable to be pushing out a baby with everyone clustered around my body, no water to shield me. But I also felt comfortable enough (and ready to be done) to do it! I felt like an animal. A purposeful, quiet animal. I felt steely and determined, quiet and blank. I told myself I would push through a count of 10 in my own mind no matter what it felt like, and then I would pause. I got the head out by the count of seven and took a rest to breathe; I heard gasps and cries of “Slow down, slow, slow, slow!”

7

Then I pushed again for less than 10 seconds and felt the baby’s slimy, floppy body move through me and drop; and then I was free, and I came back to life! It was such a sudden shift to be sprung from that deliberate, shuddering place into soft, rosy euphoria. I heard a creaky little cry, I sat straight up and was instantly flooded with giddiness and joy. I don’t remember reaching for the baby, but I must have; I remember hugging them close and crying, “Oh, my baby; I have another beautiful baby! Oh!”

8

I feel like I must have been shaking; I saw Laurel and Laura holding each other tightly and both crying. I was holding the baby already wrapped in a towel and I asked if everyone had already seen the baby’s sex and they assured me they had not. I leaned over to take in this new little person. I touched their tiny fingers. In that moment just beholding that little face, I couldn’t tell whether this baby was a son or daughter. My heart was pounding. I was nervous; I was meeting such an important new person. A new soul was there in the room with us!

Someone was exclaiming they had no idea I was pushing and someone else was saying, “That’s how she always does it.” I said that I like to be a stealth pusher and not tell anyone what I’m up to so I don’t have to manage their expectations; I don’t have time for that. Jon crawled over closer to me and we embraced, he kissed my face. I asked for Chai and Sparrow to be brought back in, and they were so beautiful to me, my little sacred children of my body. I kissed them and showed them the baby. I felt dizzy with not knowing.

9

We had decided to wait a few minutes before checking the gender of the baby. I had a conversation with my supervisor at work about the expectations and assumptions we all make base on perceived gender, and she had told me about a couple who chose to wait awhile even after birth before checking the baby’s sex. They spent some time interacting and getting to know the baby just as a new human and not as a son or daughter with gender informing their perception. They even wrote a song called “the first five minutes of life” and sang it to the baby. I loved this idea so much and had talked to my midwife about wrapping the baby in a towel immediately after they were born (providing there were no complications), so we could welcome this new person mindfully and when we felt ready. We decided it would be fun to sing to welcome our baby, and I spent months teaching Chai the song from Babe at bed-time so he would be all ready to sing to “Baby Tarzan.”

“If I had words to make a day for you, I’d sing you a morning golden and true. I would make this day last for all time, then bring you a night deep in moonshine.” I rocked with the baby and my doulas sang with me, then I pulled back the towel and in a heart-thumping second, understood that it was a baby boy who had been my Very Quiet Cricket all those months. I felt a quick pinch of loss for the dream girl-baby possibility (as I would have for the dream boy-baby if it had been a girl) and I said, “It’s a boy! Chai…Chai, you have a baby brother!” I cried. It’s too astonishing of a feeling to suddenly not be pregnant anymore, to hold a child you created in your arms, to be in the presence of such powerful newness. It’s brutally beautiful.

The hours after my baby’s birth are so warm in my memory – my friends and sisters climbing on the bed with me, talking and laughing, processing the experience. He was born at 10:28 a.m., making the total labor from first surge to the placenta being delivered a little under three hours. He weighed 8 lbs 2 oz (my tiniest baby, and my latest baby!) and his aunt Diana cut the cord. I felt delighted and relieved. I wanted to talk about how rough and all-encompassing my experience was, I wanted to talk about all the women who have ever lived who have given birth, how I worried and ached for them, and I wanted to explain how my heart was exploding with love. Laurel, Laura, Mary, Diana, Katie, Kayte, Sarah, you are and always have been so dear to me. Thank you for being connected forever with this sweet day. Thank you for holding and creating sacred space, for singing, for your comforting words. I heard or felt every one.

It is overwhelming to give birth three times in less than four years. I know I’m far from the first to experience so many pregnancies in quick succession, but it has taken a lot from me. I also know how lucky I am. I feel so grateful to have three healthy babies. I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t want to pretend that I’m immune to devastating experiences. I don’t know why we have been so lucky and why each of these times I got to wrap my arms around a healthy, squalling infant, but I honor all those women who felt every sensation that racked my body, some for so much longer, and without kind hands on their backs, and never got to hear a cry, never got to feel the relief because even after all that enormous work their bodies were flooded with panic.

I thought of the women who are abused while giving birth, who birth with injured bodies, who are insulted or shamed or alone. I felt humbled to the core of my soul that my body had worked mercifully, for the kind humans who flocked to me and threaded their fingers through my hair, pressed with all their strength on my heaving body. There was a rock of horror I didn’t fall off of; I was held, I was cradled, I was honored. I believe every woman who goes through this process deserves that, even if they would feel overwhelmed by the phalanx I had in that tiny space, too many hands, I believe everyone deserves gentleness at that time. And my heart was pierced for those who didn’t experience gentleness, but the opposite.

I talked with Katie about the photos she took…I told her they have a National Geographic feel, probably because we actually are creatures being photographed in our natural environment. They are different from my other homebirth photos, more chaotic, all this sheer emotion and intensity smeared against our wall in this tiny space; my kids wearing motley clothes, the hair I slept in. Everything about it was sudden. There is something glorious about capturing the unpreparedness of that day. There was nothing posed or staged – just this collapse into the labor that completely captured me and the good souls who swooped in to help carry me through, and then at the end we met this baby who lived in me an extra week and hopefully will be with me and Jon in all of our days of this sojourn together.

10

We were unprepared from the beginning to accept this new life. I never thought I could possibly feel good about it. But just like his birth, I worked very hard; I went through something transformative, and I was healed and uplifted by friends swooping in to hear me and support me It changed my heart from famine to feast. I also realized (again) during this pregnancy that Jonathan is my truest friend. He knows me and he accepts me. I love my newborn son. He is Good. I love my life even in this time of transition. I feel very young, and very old, very strong and very human. “How strange it is to be anything at all.”

Photographs by Katherine Loveless

Lane’s Birth Story

Lane’s Birth Story

Abbie tells us about the birth of her son, Lane.

I figured I needed to write this all down before I forget the good detailed bits about Lane’s birth. There was so much beauty in it. I have fallen in love with being a mother and even more so with the process of becoming one. People always talk about the love you have for you children. A love no one can understand until they feel it – until they hold that precious little one in their arms and kiss those sweet cheeks. Now I get it. My heart swells with happiness and pride looking at Lane. I DID THAT. I brought my sweet boy into this world after a whole lot of work. Here’s how it happened.

I had an awesome and easy pregnancy up until 29 weeks. When I say easy, I mean it was so easy I didn’t even know I was pregnant until 14 weeks. Funny enough, I was deployed when I found out. I was six weeks into my first deployment and I found out I’m 14 weeks pregnant with my first baby. Needless to say, I was sent home. I had monthly appointments with my OB after that. My monthly OB appointment came up; I was 29 weeks at this point. Everything had been perfect thus far, but this appointment went a little differently than the ones prior. We found out that I was in preterm labor and dilated to a 1 – not normal for a first-time mom to be dilated at all.

I was placed on bed rest at home for a week with a follow-up appointment. At that next appointment we found not only was I still having contractions (painless contractions, mind you) and that I was dilated, but now my cervix was shortening. I was admitted that day. I had a constant IV and I received steroid shots for baby’s lungs. It was a scary eight days being there. I had never felt so helpless. Keeping a calm spirit was all I could focus on since I felt so helpless. At 31 weeks I was sent home, still on bed rest orders, but I was stable. I had weekly appointments at this point. But at 33 weeks, I was admitted again! My cervix started shortening even more. I was now over 60% effaced and dilated to a 1. After four days of being in the hospital, the doctor told me there was nothing more they could give me medically. I was sent home to be on continued bed rest.

GUESS WHAT. This kid stayed put. He listened. He and I had a few talks about why he wasn’t allowed to meet us yet. I guess it got through! At 35w 5d I had an OB appointment, where I found out that I was completely effaced and 2 cm dilated. The doctor told us there was no way I’d make it through next week; he even said I wouldn’t make it through the weekend (it was a Friday). We made a follow-up appointment for 10 days later, just in case. Well, 10 days came and went. Our normal OB was out, but the doctor this time said the exact same thing. I was 100% effaced, 2 cm dilated, but this time she told us that baby’s head was very low, and that he was in the right position. Again, I was told they would be seeing me before my next appointment; and again, 10 days came and went.

1

However, the morning of my next appointment, things were different…

I woke up that morning around 2 a.m. feeling a contraction. Keep in mind I had been having contractions since 29 weeks; and though mostly painless, they always made me have to pee. This was different; but I didn’t want to get my hopes up since I had been so excited for over two weeks now. They kept coming, but I could sleep though them.

Once we got to the doctor’s office he checked me and found I was 4-5cm! YAY! I was so excited… Until the PH test indicated that I was leaking amniotic fluid. This put me on a 24-hour countdown. I was open to infection since the amniotic sack had been ruptured. I asked the doctor to sweep my membranes in hopes that this would speed things up without any intervention. Jamie and I went home to pack our stuff since I was being admitted. Contractions started happening then. They were painful, but they were tolerable. I called my doula and told her to meet us at the hospital.

2

Later that evening I was having some fetal monitoring done. Contractions were 7-8 minutes apart, and I couldn’t really talk through them (little did I know what was coming next). The lovely midwife checked me and found I was still at a 5. The doctor then came in and started talking about Pitocin, and I put my foot down. I was saying HELL NO to Pitocin. Every time he said the word, I said no. I could tell I was irritating him. I started asking about all other inducing options before I was given Pitocin. We decided on the natural cocktail: castor oil, papaya juice and champagne! Hell yes! I even got a little buzz off of it.

3

I continued to contract and labor with my doula and Jamie. We walked the halls and paused for the contractions, with Jamie putting counter pressure on my back (it felt amazing!). We would relax in our room while I rolled on the exercise ball. Our good friends brought us dinner and we all hung out for a bit. We had our last fetal monitoring at 11 p.m. There was no change in my cervix or with the contractions; I was still 5cm and 6-7 min apart. The midwife told us to go to our room and get some rest (HA!), and come back if anything changed or wait until morning. I sent my doula home, and Jamie and myself went to the room. I didn’t sleep one bit. The contractions had picked up enough that I was trying to rest my eyes between them, but they were every five minutes apart and painful. At one point I really just wanted hot water on me. Around 3 a.m., while Jamie slept, I took a hot shower; and it felt amazing. Eventually I got out and walked around our room. At around 6 a.m. I told Jamie I wanted to take a bath.

4

We walked to L&D and the nice midwife set me up with a lavender bath. It was so relaxing. Jamie lay on the floor and slept some more. Later on, my doula came and sat with me while Jamie went to get us some breakfast from the bakery. I sat in that bath until it was cold; it felt so nice.

Once I was out of the bath, I enjoyed a nice chocolate croissant. The midwife did a check, and saw that I was 7-8 cm! Except it was around 8 a.m. at this point. She told me the doctor wasn’t going to be happy that there wasn’t a baby here yet, and would likely push the Pitocin since it had been 24 hours. He was coming to check on me between 8:30 and 9 o’clock. She asked if she could break my water the rest of the way, since that would help move things along. I agreed. It was the weirdest sensation ever! After that, Jamie went to take a shower and my doula stayed with me.

HOLY SHIT. That first contraction after breaking my water was like none other. I remember yelling out and my doula saying “Oh! Okay!” Our plan was to walk the halls, but I couldn’t even make it out of the L&D room. This is where shit got real.

5

I have no sense of time after this. I only remember flashes; I was in incredible pain. At one point I vomited; I was extremely hot, but we couldn’t open the window because it would make the room too cold for a new baby. I remember hearing the midwife say this, and getting excited, thinking, “Oh yeah, this pain is for the sweet baby that’s coming!” Poor Jamie – he kept trying to give me words of love, and I was pushing him away. I was so. Damn. Hot. I had a cold towel on my back and Jamie fanning me. My doula kept feeding me water between contractions. Why the hell didn’t I get the drugs!? Eventually the midwife wanted to have me start pushing. I was a full 10 at this point.

6

I remember pushing and pushing, hearing everyone say, “He’s right there! We can see the top of his head!” and then the contraction would end and I was being told that his head went back in. Umm…what? Am I doing this wrong? Pushing felt so damn good; it was a relief. After all the helpless pain, I was actually doing something! And now you’re telling me I’m doing it wrong??

7

I was put in all kinds of different positions. That poor midwife had to deal with a stubborn laboring mom and a stubborn baby. I really didn’t want to be moved at all, but I obliged reluctantly. Again and again, each new position was fruitless. Then the doctor came in, and guess what we discovered? Baby was sunny side up ­– that’s why he wasn’t coming. He was stuck! He also started having a low heart rate since I wasn’t breathing.

8

I was given two options at this point: vacuum or C-section. Now anyone who spoke to me before knows I was against getting a C-section. I really did not want that. Well, guess what? I was screaming for one! Get this thing out of me! I had been pushing for 2+ hours and was DONE. I remember looking at Jamie and telling him that when they bring baby out I won’t be there for a while, so he needs to do skin-to-skin. However, my doctor thankfully had another idea: the vacuum plus Pitocin. The doctor wanted my contractions to last a little longer, so I lost the battle of no Pitocin.

The next thing I knew, I was up in stirrups and there were a lot of people. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. They had been closed since I started pushing. But the pain at this point could be described as searing. I swear everyone and their mom had their hand up inside me. I remember having Jamie’s hand and my doulas, and was pushing with everything I had. Thank god for my doula. She’s the only reason I kept breathing; I nearly passed out a couple times. There was a midwife behind me pushing on my stomach (not enjoyable), lots of pain, and then…

9

Lane! He was squishy and cute and lying on my chest. My sweet baby boy was here. We had hoped for delayed cord clamping, but baby wasn’t breathing right. He was taken from me, and I quickly told my doula to go with him. I don’t know why I didn’t tell Jamie; I just knew I wanted someone with him.

10

Little Lane was brought back to me a couple minutes later, all pink and wide awake. Jamie, Lane and I cuddled, and eventually they weighed him and measured him. We had an hour of family time, and then we were wheeled to our room down the hall.

11

It wasn’t how I imagined it. It didn’t go exactly with my birth plan. I had planned on a natural water birth; but it was perfect in its own way. Lane is here, and Jamie and I are parents. My heart has grown more than I ever knew it could. There’s no way I could have done this without Jamie or Xina. The love and support was exactly what I needed. Plus Xina got some amazing pictures that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Dorian’s Birth Story

Dorian’s Birth Story

Dominika shares the beautifully moving story of her son Dorian’s birth. 

Dorian’s due date was on September 17th, so I decided to start my maternity leave a little earlier to give myself some downtime. My last day of work was on Friday, September 5th. Little did I know that Dorian would be taking his sweet time! The days passed, and my due date came and went. I became increasingly bored at home, but couldn’t do much about it as my mobility was steadily decreasing due to my ever-growing belly. I was also suffering from nightly insomnia caused by heartburn, which made me very tired; so I spent my days on brief social outings and naps. The novelty slowly wore off as people kept asking me over Facebook when my baby is coming. Finally, I snapped at one person’s questioning me and said, “October, clearly.” If only I had known how right I would be!

As the days went by, Ivan and I tried more and more methods to induce labor. I got an induction massage, tried numerous walks, had awkward pregnant sex, and got several stretch-and-sweeps from my midwife, which were rather painful, and although they reverberated through my entire uterus, they did not begin contractions.

Every night before bed, I wondered if I would wake up with contractions, and every day I would wake up disappointed. Finally on the morning of October 5th, I got so frustrated I began crying. My midwife had told me that 98% of women go into labor on their own if left alone between 41 and 42 weeks, and here I was at 42 and 4 and nothing was happening. I was starting to get really worried that after fighting so hard against being induced, that my body would betray me and I would have to go to the hospital and be forced into induction – or worse, a C-section.

Ivan assured me that there was nothing wrong with me, and that no matter what happens, the end result will be having a beautiful baby boy. We decided to move on with our lives and go out for lunch to an Indian restaurant to try spicy food as one last-ditch effort. All it accomplished was giving me extremely uncomfortable indigestion. I called my midwife at 10:30 p.m., and she advised me to take some Tums and a Tylenol. I did so, and went to bed.

Two hours after falling asleep, on October 6th at 42 weeks 5 days pregnant, I finally had some water leaking at 12:30 a.m. I wasn’t entirely sure if that’s what it was, but it appeared in small puddles in different sections of my bed sheet. I figured it wasn’t enough fluid to signify anything and happily just went back to sleep, once again hoping to wake up with contractions.

The following morning I was once again disappointed. My midwife Jen was supposed to come over at 9 a.m. to check on me, but called me at 8:30 to say that she was attending another birth and had to reschedule. I was scheduled to go back to the hospital at 1 p.m. for more fetal monitoring, and Jen called me back at 11 and asked me if I’d prefer to have her come see me before or after going to the hospital. I told her that I would much prefer to see her beforehand, as the hospital would stress me out and elevate my blood pressure and bully me into induction again. I also told her about my water leaking, which I had completely forgotten to mention when she had called me earlier.

Jen did a great job of acting like that wasn’t a big deal. She came over at noon and asked me whether I would prefer to try inducing naturally at home and skipping the hospital, as they would definitely bully me into staying if I told them that my water had leaked. I was more than happy to go along with this plan because it meant I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I had no idea how effective it would be and that it would actually send me into labor!

Jen called up the receptionist at the midwifery clinic, and with a wink at me, asked her to cancel my appointment at the hospital because I was “in early labor.” Then we went upstairs to my bedroom and Jen did a sterile speculum exam and confirmed that I was having a hind leak of waters. She then did another stretch-and-sweep and confirmed that I was already 5-6 cm dilated and about 75% effaced – now we were just missing the contractions!

At 1 p.m. I started taking some homeopathic medication, alternating two different ones every 15 minutes for two hours. Jen also had me hook myself up to a breast pump to see if that would also stimulate labor. She also wanted to break my water at 3 o’clock, but I managed to stall her for an hour. She kept asking me if I was feeling anything, and I kept telling her that I think so, but really I think up to that point in time it was just in my head.

Finally at 4 o’clock she convinced me to do it, and it was the last painful check she had to do as my cervix was still tilted towards my back with the baby’s head in front of it. Every time she checked me, Jen could feel the baby’s head moving and knew he was right there, ready to go! Ivan squeezed my hand as she broke my waters on my bed, and we were all very happy to learn that there was no meconium present, despite Dorian being almost three weeks late.

The effects of having my water broken were immediate, and by 4:30 I was already in active labor. However I had no idea this was happening, because I felt the same way I felt after every other time I got a stretch-and-sweep done. I thought my uterus was just reacting to being disturbed and that the sensations would go away soon. I decided to have a shower to alleviate the discomfort, and stayed there for about half an hour. Eventually I decided that I had been in there too long and should probably get out and rejoin Ivan and Jen.

Initially, Jen told me that my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart. She updated me at first, but then stopped letting me know as my body took over, however in her notes she said that they went from 6 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart between 4:15 and 5 p.m.

After getting out of the shower, the hormones must have kicked in because I suddenly felt incredibly, horribly cold. I was covered in a towel and climbed into bed, and having a towel, two blankets, two bathrobes and a space heater on still wasn’t enough to make me feel warm and stop shivering. Jen took my temperature and discovered that it was actually elevated, and warned me that if it stayed high I would have to consider taking intravenous antibiotics to prevent a possible infection.

Ever so slowly I began warming up and peeling back layer after layer. Eventually it became extremely hot in the bedroom and I ended up completely naked, laboring on the bed with Ivan. At first dealing with the contractions was fairly manageable, but what bothered me was a constant feeling of nausea. I kept a bucket by the bed but never threw up. Jen suggested that I have a popsicle, and although I didn’t really want one, she got one for me and Ivan fed it to me one bite at a time, which actually felt wonderful.

At 6 p.m. Jen let me know that we reached the point where my waters had been broken for 18 hours, and asked if I wanted to get antibiotics in case of infection. I declined, as statistically I knew that it was unlikely.

Ivan was rubbing my back and helping me switch positions and lean over my yoga ball on the bed, and somehow eventually I made it to 7 o’clock, when Jen told me she would have to check me again to see if the dilation was progressing. I was very disappointed to hear that I was only at 7 cm after laboring what felt like eternity, but Jen assured me that this was great progress and Ivan told her not to tell me any more numbers as I have a tendency to latch onto things like that. Jen also asked me later on if I noticed that being checked that time didn’t hurt anymore – but I hadn’t.

Jen said that I could get into my bathtub after the check, and I was ecstatic to get in and turn on the jets. I sat in the bathtub sideways and had one jet on my back and another on my crotch, and it felt wonderful! I don’t know how long I stayed in there, but eventually I felt that I was staying too long and got out and back onto my bed.

Somewhere along the way, my body gave me a wonderful contraction-free break, for what felt like about five minutes. Jen told me to lean into Ivan, and while having my back to his chest I leaned into his neck and relaxed and it felt wonderful. When the contractions started again, without having planned it beforehand, we both began to breathe deeply and make synchronized “Ommm” noises with each exhalation. Each one got longer and longer, and I couldn’t tell whether I was the one leading them or whether it was Ivan. I leaned my ear into his neck and I could feel his voice reverberating through me. We did all this to the sound of a yoga-inspired soundtrack that I mostly did not hear, but all in all it was peaceful and serene and I felt safe and secure.

Unfortunately I soon reached the point of feeling unable to keep up with the constant contractions, which felt like they were right on top of each other. I started crying and saying that I can’t do this, and I desperately felt the need to escape the pain but couldn’t. Jen suggested that I try lying down sideways to see if I could actually sleep between contractions, but when I tried it the pain actually felt more intense, so I got back up on all fours and leaned over the ball again. Ivan coached me to keep up my deep breathing and began the “om” pattern again.

Jen quietly left the room and told us that she was going to get her supplies from her car. Somewhere at the very back of my mind, a thought occurred that this meant that we were actually doing it, that we were actually going to stay home and have a baby, but the thought was swept away by the contractions before I could connect the dots.

Eventually I decided to use the bathroom, and ended up laboring on the toilet briefly. I “om-ed” by myself and wondered why Jen and Ivan weren’t coming to check on me, but then decided that I must be okay since they were doing so. I then decided to get back into the bathtub and try the water jets again.

Somewhere along the way it got dark and Ivan must have lit the candles we had in the bathroom, because the room was in total darkness except for the candlelight.

Jen and Ivan soon quietly joined me and both sat on the floor in the bathroom. Wordlessly they became a team, and Jen let Ivan lead the encouragement and only occasionally interjected with her support. The jets provided a lot of relief but unfortunately couldn’t keep up with the contractions. Ivan and I were still “omming,” but suddenly I had had enough and started begging to be transferred to the hospital to get an epidural. I was crying that I can’t do it and although in my head I could hear how pathetic I sounded, I felt like I was willing to do anything to make the pain stop. I felt like time was standing still and in my mind I figured that I could endure a terrible 20-minute ambulance ride to the hospital and then have the hospital give me an epidural or cut the baby out of me. I cried and repeatedly told Ivan and Jen that I can’t do it and that they need to call the ambulance for me.

Ivan very firmly disagreed. “Look at me. Look at me,” he ordered. I struggled to open one eye at a time and make eye contact. Ivan confidently told me that I can do it and that I’m really close. Jen told me to just think about that beautiful baby in my arms. I closed my eyes again and told them that I don’t even want the baby anymore. After I said that I literally could hear the awkward looks they exchanged.

Jen took a different tactic than Ivan and said we can transfer to the hospital if I really want to, but I would have to get out of the bathtub for her to check me to see how far along I am to make sure transferring was still a safe option. I told myself that it was really stupid to have wanted a home birth when epidurals were invented for a reason. I started willing myself to get out of the tub so that Jen could check me again. “Right after this one,” I would think. Then the next one would hit me right away and again I would think, “…After this one.” Finally, I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of the tub, partially because I didn’t want to feel the pain of having Jen check me again.

Jen told me to reach inside myself to see if I could feel the baby. I cautiously did so, and to my great surprise I could feel something that was different. I was incredibly shocked and really ecstatic to realize that the pain was actually working and that the baby was there where I could feel him.

Then I lost my composure and again started crying and saying that I can’t do it, when suddenly the feelings inside me changed. With the same breath I was using to say, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” suddenly I changed my whine to “I have an urge to push.”

The change was really, really sudden and intense. I think when they say “urge to push” it’s a nice euphemism for “there is no way in hell that I could avoid pushing if my life depended on it!” My insides felt as if I had terrible diarrhea, yet pushing was like straining from constipation. My vocalization changed from “omming,” deep exhaling and whining that I can’t do it to a deep, primal, guttural grunt. In my head I felt embarrassed about being unable to control the sound, so I felt like I had to keep on my tub’s jets to create enough noise to give me the privacy to continue making the sounds, which allowed me to push. Jen told me to try and focus my energy on pushing instead of the vocalization, but I felt like I had to keep making the noise to be able to do it.

At some point in time, Jen said that she was texting the other midwives to come help with the birth. In a deep, far region of my brain it occurred to me that that meant that I was actually going to have the baby in the bathtub, but again I couldn’t connect the dots. Diane and Sara appeared very quietly and stood in the recess of the bathroom.

With each push I kept telling myself that I would get huge, and that maybe this push was it to get his head out. I ended up on my knees in the bathtub, and used my hands to stretch myself apart.

Jen told me to try to push longer with each urge, or to push twice within the same contraction. I kept pushing, then taking breaks, then pushing and telling myself, “This one is it. This one is it.”

Sara kept attempting to use a Doppler on me to measure Dorian’s heartbeat, but she had to turn off the bathtub’s jets to listen for it, which bothered me and interrupted my pushing so I kept apologizing and turning them back on.

Eventually I became aware of the sensation of his head crowning. It felt like a gigantic, gelatinous bubble between my legs. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever felt.

Jen told me that when I begin to feel the sensation of the ring of fire, I need to stop pushing and let my body take over by itself to avoid tearing. I agreed, but with each contraction in my head I was all, “F*** that. I want this baby out of me!” Finally, I felt the ring of fire, but it wasn’t quite as intense of a sensation as I had imagined it would be – it was more like a slight stinging sensation.

I pushed against the sensation and felt the “pop” of his head being born. Jen told me to lean back against the bathtub as she shined a flashlight between my legs and quickly unwrapped his umbilical cord which was loosely around his neck. She gave me the signal to push again, and Dorian somehow slithered right out – I have no recollection of feeling his body coming out!

Jen told me to reach down and catch my baby, but I told her that I can’t. I was worried about slipping in the bathtub because I was propped up on my elbows. Jen caught him in the palms of her hands and passed him right over to Ivan, who jumped in the tub fully-clothed, then picked him up and plunked him on my chest.

Dorian felt really warm, rubbery and squishy, and looked perfectly clean and pink in the dim candlelight. The first thing I said was, “I can’t believe he’s real!” as I had completely given up on ever having him come out. The midwives dried him off with a towel and he went “Meh…meh” very quietly, then suddenly gave us a startling “Wehhhh!” as I held him tightly.

Dorian was born at 8lbs 6 oz, 21″ length at 12:31 a.m. on October 7th, after 7 hours of labor and 45 minutes of pushing.

He had no meconium and zero signs of being post-term, suggesting that my normal gestation period is simply longer than average, despite the hospital’s bullying. He also had great timing; if we had made it one more day we would no longer have been allowed to have a home birth.

The midwives allowed me to hold him there while we were in the bathtub, just long enough to feel him pee on me! Then they helped me get out of the bathtub and carry him over to my bed, with his umbilical cord still attached and hanging out of me.

Ivan got to cut his cord, and while I held him on my chest, he pooped on me! I then passed him over to Ivan as the midwives helped me pass the placenta. I found it very difficult to deliver the placenta on my back and wondered how women can possibly deliver babies that way.

Afterwards I unfortunately had some complications and the midwives had a difficult time controlling the bleeding. I had very minimal tearing, but the internal bleeding was so severe they were debating transferring me to the hospital for observation. I was really determined to stay out of there and luckily prevailed!

The midwives stayed with us until I was stable and left at 4 a.m. I was ecstatic to finally be able to go to sleep, but couldn’t fall asleep right away. We slept till 7 a.m. before Dorian woke us up with a banshee-like scream, and our journey of parenthood had officially begun.

My Birth Story: When Things Don’t Go As Planned

My Birth Story: When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Kyla shares with us the moving story of her daughter’s birth.

My due date came and went. For eight days I experienced periods of contractions, which varied in length and intensity. They got my hopes up. Every. Single. Time.

I went through hours of what I thought was labor, each time believing this must be it more than the last. I walked, stayed up all night, baked a “labor cake” and breathed through my contractions on my hands and knees. And eventually after four, five, six or more hours they would fade away. Nothing was more discouraging, frustrating and exhausting. I was experiencing feelings I never had before, and it made me miserable.

I had the birthing pool blown up in my spare room, ready to be filled. I gathered all the home birth supplies. I was optimistic and excited about my labor and birth. I prepared by mediating, going for reiki and attending prenatal yoga. I practiced breathing techniques.

I woke up on Monday in the middle of the night with contractions. After being up the previous two nights walking like a crazy person trying to encourage my contractions to stay, I decided I would try to relax through these ones. I slept for a few hours, and finally at 6 a.m. I could not longer stay resting through them. They were gaining intensity, but still weren’t completely regular.

They got closer and closer to the five-minutes-apart mark for an hour, which was the point at which I’d be able to finally page my midwife! But they never got to that point; they would be four minutes apart for a while, and then seven, then back to four, three and then 10.

That Monday I went for a few walks as usual, and got a sweep done in the afternoon. I was 4 cm dilated, and my contractions had not gone away. My amazing midwife encouraged me; and without saying the words, I picked up that she believed we would be having a baby that night! I was so thrilled – this was finally it.

I labored through that day; and as the day turned to night, my contractions got increasingly hard to breathe through. I bounced on my ball, rested and walked. It was 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning by the time I was crying through the contractions. I felt exhausted and beaten down. They still were not regular; they were intense, but while some were close together, others were further apart.

I felt sick to my stomach and went to the bathroom thinking I was going to get sick. I woke up three minutes later to my next contraction – I was face-down on the bathroom floor. This was a physical and emotional exhaustion that I had never felt before.

I waited until 7 a.m., because I hadn’t wanted to wake up my midwife before then. I called her, and she could hear the exhaustion in my voice. She told me she would be over in an hour. She helped me through my contractions, rocking and breathing with me. I was 6 cm dilated and we had the conversation about breaking my waters to help the contractions find their rhythm. I was all for this, as I was now a full week overdue and more than ready for the real deal.

She warned me if there was meconium present, we would not be able to do the birth at home. I dismissed this, thinking, how often does that actually happen? They broke my bag of waters at around 8:30 a.m. No meconium – good news! But then my midwife took the pad to the bathroom for better lighting and in the calmest voice said, “Oh yes; there’s meconium in there.” My heart sank.

No candles, no essential oils, no dim lighting and no birthing pool. I had to go to the bright hospital where I had been adamant about not birthing at. I didn’t let my discouragement show, though; after all, I had consented and did not want be difficult. I had to throw together a hospital bag quickly before we left, and I met my midwife at 10 a.m.

Just my luck, as I arrived outside the hospital in fuzzy pajama pants and flip-flops with amniotic fluid dripping down my legs, there had been a fire alarm. I’m sure it was a sight to see. We had to stand there for what seemed like forever, still breathing through the irregular contractions. Finally we got to the maternity unit and my midwife again calmly informed me after being hooked up to the monitor that they would have to start an induction. My heart sank again. This meant an IV and monitors during labor—something I felt strongly against. I wanted to be able to labor freely, sitting in water, standing in the shower, and walking around the room.

The OB came in and I signed the papers consenting to an induction. I was hooked up to Oxytocin by 11:30 a.m. I had never felt so unlike myself. I wasn’t asked if I wanted the epidural—I was told I needed one. They could tell I wouldn’t be able to naturally birth my baby by my energy level at the time.

I was hooked up to the epidural, and managed to nap for an hour and a half. The nurses checked me a few hours later, and I was still 6 cm dilated. They kept upping the induction hoping to see change as we were on a timeline now. Finally my midwife checked me and I was 8 cm. We called the birth photographer at around 6:00 p.m.

Before I knew it I was 9½ cm. My family and a friend said goodbye and good luck. The birth room was set up, and my midwife, her student, my mom and birth photographer were present. I had stopped giving myself the epidural; I wanted to feel myself pushing so I could more effectively do so. And after 15 minutes of hard, determined but controlled pushing with the support of my amazing midwife, my baby girl was born at 8:15 p.m., weighing 8 lbs 3 oz. She was perfectly healthy and exactly one week overdue.

I felt most unprepared for the fact that my labor wouldn’t be black and white. It would not go as planned; I would not know when it was the real thing and when it was actually the day I would have my baby. I wasn’t mentally prepared. I didn’t believe that I would actually get to hold my baby. At my 4-week visit with my midwife, everything had hit me. I broke down to her, saying I felt like a failure. I had not done it naturally; I felt like I had cheated and given up. I hadn’t done it at home in water like I wanted, and I felt ripped off.

She sat and talked to me for a long time about why everything we did was necessary to have an amazing delivery. She assured me I had done a great job, and I was able to find comfort in her words. Her help, along with reading the stories on this blog, has let me come to terms with my birth. It was long, exhausting, hard and perfectly amazing all at the same time. I would do it over and over again. I learned so much trust in my body and every day I am fascinated by its capabilities.

Photograph by Kim Windle, Vancouver Island, BC.

A Positive Emergency Induction Story

A Positive Emergency Induction Story

Natalie shares the story of her son’s induced birth.

I’d been researching about babies and birth for as long as I can remember; so when my husband, Greg, and I found out we were pregnant, I was so excited to put what I had learned into practice. I hated reading stories about all the awful things that went along with pregnancy and I was determined to love carrying this baby. I had only mild morning sickness, and I never had any swelling, heartburn or cravings. I credit this to eating a really healthy diet with lots of whole foods.

Our due date was Leap Day 2016, and in October we found out we were having a little boy.

Through all my research I had outlined a very specific birth plan: I’d labor at home with my husband for as long as possible, then we’d go to the birth center where my midwives would help me deliver our baby in a very calm, peaceful environment with few interventions. But we all know what they say about best-laid plans…

At 35 weeks, I started having itchy feet. It was odd enough for me to Google it and I read about Cholestasis—a potentially very serious complication with the liver/gallbladder in pregnancy. The risk of stillbirth is much higher than normal pregnancy, and induction before 37 weeks is strongly recommended. The labs came back at my 36-week appointment on February 1 and were very high—borderline severe—so I was referred to an OB practice.

After wrapping up things at work in the morning, we went in the next day and had a biophysical ultrasound. Our little man looked great; he had perfect fluid levels, and they estimated his weight to be about 6.5lbs. We met with the OB and he recommended we induce ASAP as there were no guarantees how long he would be okay in there. The problem with Cholestasis is that things can go from fine to terrible without much warning. We were to go in the following morning at 7 a.m., but the Maternity Unit was full; so we ended up going in Wednesday evening, February 3.

My cervix was high and unfavorable; not great conditions for inducing – but we needed my baby out. On Wednesday night they gave me Cervadil to try and soften my cervix. On Thursday morning, February 4, they administered Cytotec to try and get things moving. All day I had mild irregular contractions, and we kept moving around in between long stints of monitoring. At 6 p.m. they started a low dose of Pitocin to try to get things started; but I was still barely dilated.

Later that night they gave me a Foley Bulb, which was the most uncomfortable thing ever. The constant ache from the Foley bulb, mixed with the artificial Pitocin contractions, was way too much to handle. We decided to turn the Pitocin off, and I was able to get a half decent night of sleep.

On Friday morning, the OB removed the Foley bulb and I was dilated to about 3 cm and was not having regular contractions. At 10 a.m. our dog escaped from the sitter. She was loose on the town for two hours, and my labor stalled until she was found. Once my husband came back from canvassing our neighborhood, they started Pitocin again and I labored all afternoon as they turned the Pitocin up and up. At the peak I was on 15ml/hour. I had to be on the monitors constantly, which I thought I’d hate, but it was reassuring to hear his heart beating steadily. The OB checked me at 6 p.m. and I was back down to 2 cm but 70% effaced. It was really disheartening, but I was determined to get him out.

At 10 p.m. the OB checked and I was dilated to a 5 and 80% effaced. This was awesome news as I was doing loads of work. I labored in the shower because I was having a hard time relaxing during contractions, and I was definitely questioning my decision to go pain-med-free. It wasn’t that the contractions were unbearable; I just didn’t think I could handle another eight hours like that.

Greg was able to give me the “Tyler Durden” pep talk and got my head back in a better spot. While in the shower my body temp rose, which caused baby’s heart rate to stay too high. Greg was really concerned so I got out and lay on the bed and tried to rest between contractions, but I was having both back and front labor. The contractions focused in my lower abdomen, but I was having really painful back spasms, and the only way to help was to have Greg massage my lower back and push on my tailbone. The nurse said that when I was ready, they would move us into the delivery suite and break my water. I knew this meant the end was near, but I spent a while on the bed, scared to take the leap and move forward because I knew it was about to get harder.

I walked to the delivery room sometime around 2:30 a.m., where the OB broke my water. I was 7 cm and 100% dilated. Breaking my water definitely started transition. It was a lot of intense contractions with no break. Transition was difficult; Greg was working so hard to help me, but nothing could make the pain go away. At this point they turned off the Pitocin and let my body take over. I needed to pee but there was no way in hell I was going to get up and go to the bathroom so I asked the nurse if I could pee there. It apparently I didn’t get my point across because she and Greg were surprised when I just started going on the bed. Not a single f*** was given at that point; plus, the bed was already covered in pads and towels from my water breaking. We all had a good laugh about this afterward.

Transition was over quickly and soon I started to feel my son moving down. The pressure was immense and my body started to push involuntarily, so I went along. The OB came back in, checked me quickly, and said “His head is moving down and you’re fully dilated.” I thought I was going to want to push on my hands and knees, but my legs were too unsteady. Greg held one leg and also held the Doppler in the right spot so we could hear his heart beat, and held my hand while I pushed. Pushing was really uncomfortable; the pressure was insane and felt like I couldn’t breathe very well. But besides the discomfort, pushing was actually the most romantic experience I’ve ever had with my husband.

Between contractions I looked into Greg’s eyes, and he encouraged me while I held his hand. The feeling in the room at that moment was something I’ll never forget, and is difficult to put into words. I breathed our baby down slowly and I held my hand on his head as he crowned then popped out. The OB assisted in getting his shoulders out and I got to pull my wiggly little babe to my chest. James Gregory was born at 3:20 a.m. on February 6, 2016.

1

He had tons of hair, a thick cord and was covered in vernix. I held him skin-to-skin as I delivered the placenta, which looked amazing (the concern with Cholestasis is that it breaks down the placenta rapidly). James started crying right away and pinked up quickly. He received an APGAR score of 9, and the nurses couldn’t find anything to take off.

The OB checked me, and I hadn’t torn at all! After I got to hold James for awhile, I passed him off to Greg and he got to hold him skin-to-skin before they weighed him. He weighed 6lbs 8oz at birth, and was 20″ long – both great measurements for being technically premature. They brought him back to me and we tried breastfeeding. He latched right away and all the nurses were amazed. Preemies of his age usually have a hard time with breastfeeding.

2

Labor was hard; it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done – but I am so in awe of what my body was able to do. This birth wasn’t the one we planned for, but it ended up being perfect. I got to have the best of both worlds: the one-on-one personalized care from a midwife, and the specialized yet compassionate care from an OB and medical team.

For more information on Cholestasis, or ICP, visit icpcare.org. Awareness saves little lives!

My VBAC Story

My VBAC Story

Sherry-Ann shares her beautiful VBAC birth story.

I always knew that I wanted to birth my kids the way nature intended – naturally. I had always said that if my mom was able to do it (and my mom has a very low pain tolerance), then I could, too.

When I was pregnant with Joshua, I only had a Plan A: a natural birth; and I made that very clear throughout my appointments with my gynecologist. At my 39-week check up on November 20, 2012, my then-gynecologist told me that my amniotic fluid was very low and I needed to go into hospital to have an non stress test done. This came back all clear and my husband and I went back home. The minute we got home, my gynecologist’s assistant called us back to the hospital saying that the doctor wanted to see us and that we should bring along our bags.

My husband and I were excited and overwhelmed at the same time, and I remember that we hugged and said a little prayer before heading off to the hospital, not knowing what to expect. When we got to the hospital, the doctor then said that I would be admitted and also induced in the early hours of the morning (take note: the NST was clear).

The nurses then came in with a ton of forms that needed to be completed, including a c-section consent form, which I refused to sign because I knew that there was only one way that my baby was to be birthed; but I was forced to sign it somehow.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day – the nurse then came to start the induction. Unfortunately nothing was happening although baby was fine; and 13 hours later the doctor came in and gave us one more hour to see if anything was going to happen. Nothing happened, and so the doctor came in to tell me that I was going to have a c-section. That was the most devastating news I had ever heard in my life. I remember crying like baby in my room while my husband tried to calm me down.

While hubby went to change into his scrubs, the pediatrician walked me to the surgery room; I was crying all the way there. I was then prepped for surgery, and a few minutes later I heard a loud scream. My baby boy was born at 7:52 p.m. on November 21, 2012, weighing 3,26kg. As much I knew I loved him since that very first cry, I also felt like I had already failed him as a mother.

As they were stitching me up, I was so emotional and I felt so helpless that I couldn’t take my crying baby and hold him in my arms immediately to calm him. It took a very long time for me to bond with my baby. I loved him from the first second, but it would take months before I really felt that bond between a mother and a child. The recovery process from a c-section is no fun at all. I couldn’t walk for the first night; and when I started walking the next day, it was the worst feeling ever. I was on pain meds for quite some time because I was in so much pain. Having to nurse a scar and a new baby was no fun at all.

Don’t get me wrong—I thank God for the wisdom that doctors have to perform caesarean sections, but only when it’s really necessary. Had I known better at the time, I would have never gone back to the hospital when the doctor called me; I would’ve waited.

Fast forward to June 25, 2015, when we found out we were expecting our new little bundle. From the word go I knew I was going to have my baby naturally. Soon after Josh was born I started researching VBACs; the pros, the cons, birthing centers and who the best midwives were for the job. That’s when I found out about Sue King: VBAC queen.

I had been following Sue for some time on Facebook and at a stage read that she had plans to emigrate during the month that my baby was due. My heart ached. In the meantime I went to see one of the backup gynecologists at Genesis Clinic, Dr. Maasdorp, and I told him my story. He then asked me who my midwife was, and I told him that I really wanted Sue King but she had plans to leave so I didn’t have one as yet and that I was still looking.

He then picked up his cell phone and made a phone call and asked the person on the other line to take me on. When he was done, he then told me that he had just spoken to Sue, and that she’d take me on. If I could, I would’ve jumped up and down right there and then. I was so happy. From that second, I knew God was in total control and that He was already busy working on my behalf to have this dream come true. Dr. Maasdorp then gave me Sue’s number to get in touch with her; and after explaining all the pros and cons of a VBAC, assured me that I was a good candidate for a VBAC. I left the doctor’s office the happiest girl that day. I then sent Sue a message setting up a time to meet with her.

Wednesday the 5th of August was my first meeting with Sue. I could immediately tell that she had an amazing spirit, and I connected well with her. I shared my story with her, and she reassured me that we were going to do this, and that she wouldn’t do anything without guidance from God. At our next appointment she told my husband the same thing, and he was happy and he supported right through this journey amidst his own concerns.

Fast forward to 12:38 a.m. on the 24th of February. I woke up with some light cramps, and ignored them until they started coming regularly. Luckily I remembered all the breathing techniques that I had been reading up on over the past nine months, and I started practicing them with each contraction. I was still not sure if it was helping though, since I still felt the pain.

After about an hour, I woke my hubby and told him what was happening. We monitored what I thought were contractions for some time, and then I asked him to message Sue. Within no time she replied and advised that the contractions were too close together and irregular, and then said I should get into a bath and take a Panado. She said that this was common after a c-section. I did exactly that, and the contractions started easing up a bit.

They were still coming, but very irregularly. I couldn’t get much sleep at all because I was excited and also in pain. I couldn’t stop thinking that if this was early labor, what the real thing would feel like. I had irregular contractions for most of the day, and then they eventually stopped for a while after 3 p.m. I finally managed to get some rest. I notified Sue and she advised that I rest and that she would see me soon.

The contractions started up again in the early evening and by 11 p.m. I told my husband that we should go to Genesis. I had a shower, with a few contractions in between, dressed, greeted Josh and my mum, and off we went. Sue arranged for one of the midwives to check that baby and I were okay. We got to Genesis just after 11 p.m., and met up with Elrika, the sweetest midwife ever. As soon as I got onto the bed for her to check baby and me, my water broke; just like that. She then tested to make sure that it was amniotic fluid, and lo and behold, it was. I wasn’t going anywhere else but my private room at Genesis. This baby was on her way.

My husband and I then went to our room, and Elrika gave me a light sedative so that I could get some rest. The sedative made me drowsy but I could hardly sleep as the contractions were still coming. I closed my eyes anyway, and made sure I rested in between each contraction.

Morning came, and I was so happy to see Sue. She checked me and I was only 1 cm dilated; she did a stretch and sweep while she checked, too. Even though I was 1 cm, I wasn’t disheartened because I knew my body would do what it needed to do when it needed to. Sue also gave me some homeopathic medication that would bring my contractions on much stronger, and she also arranged for me to see a reflexologist.

After lunch I still hadn’t progressed much. Sue then went to the room next door to do another birth; and as she left, she reassured me that I was going to have this baby naturally. I loved the boldness that she had when she made that statement. God was in control.

Sue then came back a few hours later and told my husband and I that she had a chat with Dr. Maasdorp. She explained to him that I was in labor but my contractions weren’t strong enough. She then asked him if she could give me something to help kick-start the contractions, and he obliged. I have to mention that with a VBAC you’re not allowed to be induced and you’re not allowed any pain medication. But God was in control.

Sue waited for the nightshift staff at Genesis to come to start the drip. While waiting, my husband and I prayed; we were excited for what was to come. Sue and Elrika put me on a drip just before 8 p.m. Sue also told us that there was a doula, Tertia, who was there, and that she was going to assist us with the birth as well. Tertia came in and turned the lights down in our room and there was an immediate sense of serenity. They had also set up the birthing pool and we were good to go.

The medication then kicked in, and I started feeling those contractions on a whole new level. I thought I was in pain before until I started feeling those strong contractions. They started getting closer, and at times I forgot to breathe.

It was then time to get into the pool, and I felt an immediate relief. The water was warm and it felt so good. But that feeling was very short-lived. Contractions were coming with hardly any time for me to even breathe. Sue then checked and I was about 4 or 5 cm dilated. She then left the room for a while. Tertia was a gem. She rubbed my back and made sure I was breathing through every contraction. There was a time that she briefly left the room too, and I told my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like crying because I was exhausted and in pain. He then gently spoke to me and managed to calm me down for a bit.

When Tertia came back I told her I was in pain and couldn’t do it. She also spoke to me and calmed me down. I don’t recall what happened next but I do remember Sue coming in and giving me something for pain in my drip. I felt a burning sensation in my chest and she told me it was from the meds. I immediately felt so relaxed. I laid back in the pool and I was focused again. I breathed through every contraction and I felt like I could do this. That was very short-lived too, but at least I managed to rest and save up some energy.

The meds wore off and I started feeling those contractions on a whole new level again. But after a couple of contractions, I felt an urge to push. I told Tertia and she told me to push whenever I felt that feeling. I did just that and it made the contractions a bit easier to manage knowing that I could do something when they came. Tertia then went to get Sue and when she checked me I was 10 cm dilated. I remember saying, “Thank you, Lord.”

My eyes were closed the entire time as I tried to stay focused on birthing my baby. Sue was checking baby after every push and she remained one happy little girl right through all the pushing. Sue and Tertia coached me through every push but eventually all the breathing techniques went out the window and I started screaming. Tertia and my hubby tried reminding me to breathe all the time but I just couldn’t. I’m sure I scared quite a few moms who were about to birth their babies.

I pushed for about 45 minutes before our beautiful angel arrived at 11:30 p.m. on the 25th of February 2016, on my dad’s birthday, weighing in at 3,9kg. I remember saying, “Thank you, Jesus” the second she was born. She was the most calm baby I had ever seen. She never made a sound but she was wide awake, eyes wide open and blowing little bubbles from her mouth. I looked at her and started crying. I was so emotional and I fell in love with her instantly. I had forgotten about the pain and I just enjoyed my little baby.

1

My hubby prayed over her and we just sat there staring at her for a few minutes. Sue asked me to push one more time, and my placenta was delivered. My husband then cut the cord, which he wasn’t able to do with Josh, so I was very happy and he was excited too. Abigail was then passed on to him for some skin-to-skin bonding while I got out of the pool.

It was such a good feeling being able to stand up after birth, get out of the pool and walk to the bed. I felt liberated after birthing my baby. I was flooded with happy hormones from the moment she was born. I couldn’t stop smiling and I was so thankful to God, my husband, Sue, Tertia and Elrika. I felt like I conquered a huge mountain that day.

2

Sue checked and weighed Abigail before handing her over to me to feed. Once Abigail was sleeping, I went to have a shower. I felt so good being able to do it all my own.

To this day I am still in awe of God and how he designed our amazing bodies. Women are strong!

I have learnt the power of prayer and confession through this journey. I’ve learnt that you can block out negativity from others by continuing to speak positively and by making bold declarations all the time.

God restored me that day. I bonded immediately with my baby and I even fell more in love with my son.

God is faithful.

HBA2C: Fox’s Birth Story

HBA2C: Fox’s Birth Story

This powerful mama shares the story of her son’s birth at home. 

After two c-sections, my husband and I had decided that we were done having children. My first child was born by emergency c-section at 33 weeks gestation, due to severe preeclampsia; and three years later, our second daughter was born via repeat c-section for “being breech,” which turned out to be wrong; she was head-down when they pulled her out. A little over a year later, we discovered I was pregnant once again – and this time, I was much more educated. I decided I wanted to try not only for a vaginal birth, but for a home birth. My husband stood behind whatever I wanted to do.

1
We had met with the local midwife and she saw no problem with my wishes, so we went ahead with on our new adventure. I heard from every doctor I saw that VBACs – especially after multiple c-sections – weren’t allowed by them, which made my desire to birth at home even stronger. It solidified my choice that no one was going to tell me how to birth my baby.

2
On March 8th, 2016 I had an appointment with an OB for a biophysical profile just to make sure baby was okay since my midwife had me down as 42 weeks and we still saw no signs of baby; I had a posterior cervix, and was barely effaced or dilated. I was called a “reckless, irresponsible parent” for denying a repeat c-section that very day. My health was in perfect condition as was the baby’s, so I left feeling very angry but comforted in knowing he just wasn’t ready to come yet.

3
After a trip to the chiropractor and a support belt to keep everything aligned, I was hopeful that maybe something would happen soon. On March 16th, 2016, I woke up to a few contractions. They went on and off all day, although I was never able to time them. It wasn’t until they were strong enough that I couldn’t talk through them that we decided to head home from my in-laws’ house and call the midwife.

4
It was 10 p.m. at that point, and my husband started filing up the birth pool as I worked through contractions in the shower. We put our kids to bed, and the midwife checked me – I was a loose 4cm and 75% effaced. I cried at such a small goal achieved. I lost my bloody show almost immediately afterward, and was at 6 cm not even two hours later. I labored in the pool for a few hours, breathing through each contraction and telling my body that we can do this, eventually getting out because the water wasn’t staying warm enough to comfort me any longer.
5
As soon as I was out of the birth pool, transition hit and I was squatting in the shower trying to find any kind of relief. My husband helped me out so we could see where exactly I was at; and during that, my water broke. Within minutes, I was pushing and baby was crowning. It took five big pushes, and our sweet little Fox Odice was brought earthside. Weighing in at 9lbs 1oz and 22½ inches long, my sweet baby boy gave me the healing vaginal birth I so desperately wanted after two prior c-sections. His big sisters slept through the entire six-hour labor and were able to stumble into our room when they woke in the morning to meet their new brother. It was the most empowering and healing experience of my life.

Surprise! It’s Twins!

Surprise! It’s Twins!

Lindi shares with us the story of the birth of her twins.

Surprise! It’s twins.

With my first child I was pushed into an induction. First child; I had no idea. I’m a go-with-the-flow gal when it comes to labor. I was told my baby was very big and if I waited I might not be able to have a vaginal birth. I was induced after my OB lied on the paperwork saying I had high blood pressure; I never have. I didn’t know who I could trust and I wanted to walk out of there right then; but I ended up with a healthy baby boy at 8.1lbs. It was a fairly easy induction and I thank God everything went well. That being said, I wanted an OB who I could trust.

We moved to Virginia, and I went on to have two more scheduled inductions after 40 weeks (my choice) that went very quickly and easily, as I was already 3-4cm. I found an amazing OB who respected my birth choices and whom I loved. I had epidurals with my first three children. By the third kiddo, my labor moved so quickly that the epidural never really worked.

When I found myself pregnant with my fourth, I didn’t want any pain meds. I had the most amazing birth in the hospital with my favorite OB. What a way to end having kids, I thought.

We were done. We were blessed with four amazing kiddos—two boys and two girls. On our way home from our beach vacation, I found myself nauseous. I waited another day and the same thing. I just knew. I didn’t want to take a test. I knew. All I could think about was that I had hit rock bottom after my fourth child while suffering from PPD. I never wanted to return there. I was terrified for myself and my marriage. But I took a test, because you just have to see that line; and I most definitely did ­­– I saw a line so dark that it scared me.

1

My hubby couldn’t make it to a dating ultrasound at around 11 weeks. It was then I found out we were expecting twins. I was terrified, scared, excited… you name it. I felt it all and was speechless. My husband didn’t believe me.

I struggled to accept the pregnancy for several months. We didn’t say a word to anyone. We were expecting Mono-di twins, which added in further possible complications. I knew of the birth I wanted, but knew it would be an uphill battle to get it.

My OB committed to being at my birth, which eased my worries immensely. I wanted a non-medicated, vaginal delivery, which is quite unheard of with multiples; but so doable. The only thing my OB insisted on was delivering in the OR and the baby presenting needed to be head-down, which was fine by me. I tend to tune everything out and forget where I am while laboring. My ONLY hurdle was coming to grips with a possible internal version without meds.

With monochorionic twins we didn’t want to wait too long between deliveries. So worst case, he would go in and get the other. While I prayed over my birth, my pregnancy went amazingly well. My girls were always within an ounce or two of each other and looked healthy as can be.

2

I expected to carry to at least 38 weeks, as I had gone over with all my other kids. I was shocked and scared when my water broke at around 12 one night at 36.3 weeks. Contractions started fairly quickly, and we went in at about 4 a.m. I was only at about a 4. Contractions felt different. They were strong, but they were not doing the job that they usually did with one baby. I think it had to do with the positioning of the both of them in there.

I was still on the fence about meds, but my OB said to me, “You’ve known exactly what you want from the beginning. Go with it.” I had to accept that if I didn’t get an epidural and they had to do an emergency section for baby 2, I would be quickly put under anesthesia and not awake for my second girl. It wasn’t something I wanted, but I wanted my birth more.

I did everything I could to get the contractions that were helping me progress. Sadly that was not on my ball, but on the toilet. Ugh. Labor went quickly, and at around 9:30 I knew I was in transition and got up on the bed. The nurse was called, and scrubs were thrown at my husband. It was baby time. Baby was coming fast and I had to get onto the OR table while trying to keep this babe inside.

The OR table was hard as a rock and about the width of my behind… it was insane. My doc barely had time to get his gloves on before Amelia Grace was born. She had an amazing apgar, and was 6.7lbs.

Baby 2 would not descend and we both knew she needed to come out – so in went my OB, up to his elbow. It was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. Unfortunately, while trying to turn her, my water broke and legs and arms went flying inside. The first thing he was able to grab were feet, so a breech birth it was going to be.

I have never pushed so hard in my life. I believe a baby is designed to come out head-first for a reason. Getting Estelle’s head out was very difficult. I was exhausted. I pulled all the muscles down the right side of my back from pushing. Finally she was out, and was doing well. Estelle Hope was born 4 minutes after her sister, and weighed 6.5lbs.

3

I had done it. I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing and terrifying all at the same time. If I had to do it again, I would.

My girls came home with me, and we were in awe. My kids adored them and we were so grateful for these two new blessings. Unfortunately, I hemorrhaged two weeks later at midnight, called 911 and ended up with an emergency hysterectomy after bleeding out during a routine D&C. It took many months to recover.

4

I am thankful for my life and have had the best infant experience out of all my children. We are ever so grateful for hospitals, emergency personnel, OBs, family and friends. It truly takes a village and I thank God every day for all He’s given me.

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