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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A VBAC Story

A VBAC Story

Rita shares the story of her daughter’s birth – a healing VBAC.

My first baby was born via cesarean section. Like many women, I never imagined that I would need a C-section; I never thought that would happen to me. Imagine my surprise when after 24 hours of labor, my midwife announced to me that since my baby was in distress and I had not progressed past 8 cm in three hours, the next step would be a cesarean. I pulled my bed sheet over my head and cried out loud like a baby. I wasn’t physically, emotionally or spiritually prepared for this.

The C-section was due to failure to progress and non-reassuring fetal heart rate. I personally think (my non-medical opinion) that the cesarean was the result of all of the drugs that were administered to me during labor (with my consent) and the artificial rupturing of my membrane when the baby was still high up in the uterus in the occiput posterior position. Those drugs included Fentanyl, Epidural and Pitocin. I felt like my baby was drugged (again, my non-medical opinion). I also think that it was due to my ignorance. I didn’t educate myself about childbirth. I did not educate myself about the different pain medications that were available to me and their pros and cons. Heck, I didn’t even take a childbirth class. I was one of those patients who just let the nurses and doctors do whatever they felt necessary. I did not have a plan or even know what I wanted. The cesarean was definitely a wake-up call for me.

When my baby was about 6 months old, I learned I was pregnant with my second baby. The pregnancy was more than a surprise; it knocked the wind out of me. Eight weeks after my first baby was born, I had an IUD inserted to prevent another pregnancy until I was prepared for it, which would have been about 18 months after my first baby was born. I was told that this type of IUD usually lasts for 10yrs and that there is a .08% chance of getting pregnant while on it. I guess I was a part of the .08. I was very upset with the provider who inserted the IUD. I had so many questions that she couldn’t answer. Yes, I even thought about suing her… but that’s a whole other story.

After a few weeks of crying my eyes out and being frustrated, I decided to get with the program. This baby wasn’t going anywhere. I needed to take care of myself physically and emotionally in order to be able to care for my unborn child. Once I came to terms with the pregnancy, I made a promise to myself: the birth of this baby was going to be completely different from the birth of the first child—I was going to have a vaginal birth—and I was going to do everything I could to increase my chances of having one.

The first order of business was to find a VBAC-friendly hospital. All of my research led to one of the big hospitals in my hometown of Tacoma, WA; so I contacted the hospital’s midwifery department.

My first appointment was great. The midwife told me that since my last cesarean wasn’t due to any major medical reason, I should be able to at least try for a VBAC. After my first C-section, the doctor told me that because of the way she had sewed and positioned my uterus, I would have a greater chance of having a vaginal birth the next time around. She sewed my uterus twice. Also, since I was able to go into labor on my own and progressed to 8cm, this would work in my favor.

After finding the VBAC-friendly hospital, the second order of business was to find a doula. While on doulaMatch.net, I found two doulas in my area. One of them, surprisingly, had been my high school music teacher. If I had known that she was a doula, I would have used her for my first baby. I interviewed both of them, and ended up choosing my high school music teacher. There were so many reasons why I chose her. She had a C-section with her first baby and went on to have four vaginal births. She had 15+ years of doula experience. She had a very gentle and calm spirit, which I felt was important. She’s also a birth instructor for one of the big hospitals in our area. My husband and I took a birthing class with her, and she was great! She really knew a lot about birthing babies. During the class, we had to do an exercise that required partnership. One of the girls there did not have a partner. The instructor volunteered to be her partner. After the exercise, the girl said to her, “Wow that was great! You have a gentle, motherly touch.” That statement confirmed even more that she was the right doula for me. I needed that gentle, motherly touch during my labor and delivery.

As my pregnancy progressed, I decided to educate myself more on childbirth. I read two books and watched endless YouTube videos on natural childbirth and successful VBACs. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. I watched all episodes of the British TV show One Born Every Minute. I watched a movie called All My Babies: A Midwife’s Own Story. I must have watched this movie about a thousand times. It is also on YouTube. Of course, I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born.

I became a member of our local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) on Facebook. I also became a member of a Facebook group designated for all cesarean moms who are looking to have VBAC (a very supportive group). I followed Birth Without Fear, improving birth.org Ob/Gyn & midwife associates, and many other childbirths groups on Facebook. My Facebook feed was 90% natural childbirth/VBAC related. Every day of my pregnancy, I read or watched something positive about natural childbirth or successful VBAC. I read almost all of the birthing stories posted on Birth Without Fear’s Facebook page. If others could do it, I could definitely do it, too. I was really encouraged by other women. I made up my mind that I wasn’t just going to try for a VBAC, I was going to have a VBAC. I asked Jesus every day to give me my heart’s desire.

During my second trimester, I started reading a lot about red raspberry leaf tea, which has many benefits. One major benefit is that it helps strengthen the uterus, which helps in preventing uterine rupture. Uterine rupture is a major concern when having a VBAC. I posted a question on our mamas’ group Facebook page; I asked if anyone had experience with drinking red raspberry leaf tea during their pregnancy, and I had a lot of good responses. Some women said that it helped them go into labor. I was a little nervous about that, as I was still early in my pregnancy. I spoke with my midwife regarding this. She said it was ok to drink two cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day, and three cups starting at about 34 or 36 weeks. I was 28 weeks pregnant at that time, so I started drinking two cups a day. I drank red raspberry leaf tea religiously until the day I was in labor. I also started seeing a chiropractor for weekly adjustments from 28 weeks until the week before my baby was born.

My pregnancy was going very well until I went in for my 35-week checkup. While examining my stomach, the midwife seemed a little concerned. She couldn’t tell if my baby’s head was down or not (I had a very large fibroid.) At the beginning of the exam, she thought the baby’s head was down, but by the end she thought that the baby had moved into a breech position. She recommended that I have an ultrasound done to be 100% sure that the baby’s head was down. I started to get very nervous.

I had an ultrasound done that week, and thank goodness, baby’s head was down. I was very happy and relieved. My first baby was breech throughout my whole pregnancy. My OB turned her around through external cephalic version. My 36- through 38-week checkups were fine. My midwife was sure that my baby’s head was down. At my 37-week checkup, I told my midwife that I was getting nervous about having a VBAC. I was afraid something terrible might happen—something worse than a repeat cesarean. She said if anything happened, they would do the best they could to help my baby and me. “However,” she said, “You have to trust yourself, your decision and your body. You had a cesarean. Your body is not broken. Your body is more than capable of birthing your baby.” That stuck with me. I repeated it about a hundred times a day. My body is not broken; my body is not broken. My body is more than capable of birthing my baby.

Things took a turn at 39 weeks! I went in for my 39-week checkup. While examining my stomach, my midwife seemed very concerned again. I remembered that look on her face from previous weeks. I asked, “What’s wrong?” She said, “I am 90% sure this baby is breech. “No way!” I exclaimed. “Please make an appointment to do an ultrasound as soon as possible, probably before the end of this week,” she said. This was on Monday, January 18th. My baby was due on Sunday, January 24th. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The rest of the appointment went downhill from there. I went to the receptionist’s desk and asked her to schedule me for the earliest ultrasound. She scheduled me for 8:00 a.m. the next morning (Monday, January 19th). I was very sad. Worry kept me awake that night. To be totally honest, from the movement of the baby, I knew something wasn’t right.

I went in for my ultrasound the next morning; and lo and behold, my baby was in a frank breech position. Head up, bottom down. I started crying. The ultrasound tech asked if I was okay. I said “No. I can’t believe my baby is breech this late in the pregnancy. Now they are not going to allow me to try for a VBAC.” I was very frustrated. She recommended that I meet with the midwife that same day. She asked me to go wait for her by the receptionist. As I sat by the front office, I really could not contain my sadness any longer. I started crying. The office worker and other pregnant women who were coming in for their appointments probably thought something was wrong with me or my baby. Lucky for me, the midwife was available that morning.

I don’t remember much of my meeting with the midwife that morning. I was just too sad and upset. She asked me to come in later that day at 3 p.m. The OB was available to perform an external cephalic version if I was interested in it; and of course I was. I made the appointment to go in later that day. When I left the midwife’s office, I got into my car and cried/prayed for about 10 minutes. I called my husband and told him the news. He assured me that everything would be ok. He later told me that he felt very sad because I sounded so sad over the phone. I called my doula and left her a message. She sent me a text saying, “Got your message and will be praying. Let me know if you want me to come with you.”

Before I continue with the rest of the story, I want to take a moment to acknowledge a woman in my life; I will refer to her as a birthing goddess. This woman has given birth to seven children. Five of them were probably homebirths. One was via cesarean, and the other was a VBAC. We were pregnant at the same time twice. She was pregnant with her last two kids and I was pregnant with my first two kids. She is very inspiring in lots of ways, but especially when it comes to birthing and raising kids. She has a gift! Now back to the story.

On my way home from my ultrasound/midwife visit, I felt like I needed to talk to someone; someone who would understand what I was going through. I decided to head over to this birthing goddess’s house. She had just had a successful, unmedicated and fast VBAC – just what I was hoping and praying for. As I pulled up into her driveway, I saw her through the window reading what looked like a Bible or a devotional book. My mind was somewhere else. I couldn’t tell. She swiftly came to the door and let me in with a hug. She knew something was wrong just by looking at my face. I told her what was going on. After I was done, she asked me, “Can I pray for you?” “Yes please,” I responded. She sat very close to me on the couch, put her arms around me, and prayed for me. After that prayer, I felt like a burden was lifted off of me. I had hope, trust and peace again.

We went to the hospital for my 3 o’clock visit. I was very nervous. The nurse was very nice. The OB and midwife came in to perform the EVC. You have to sign an agreement agreeing that if your baby becomes distressed after this procedure, an emergency cesarean would be performed. After all the talking/paperwork signing, the OB said to the midwife, “You grab the baby’s bottom, I will grab the head, and we will slowly turn her around!” It was very painful and uncomfortable, but I was very happy that it was successful after the first try. After this, I asked the midwife to sweep my membranes. That was also very uncomfortable, but I was going to do everything I could possibly do to prevent another cesarean. Per the midwife, I was 1 cm dilated.

I went in for my 39-week checkup on Thursday, January 21st at 4:30 p.m. The appointment went very well. My baby was still head-down. I asked my midwife to sweep my membrane again. She did, and I was still 1 cm dilated. I know everyone has different opinions about membrane sweeping, but this was my choice. On my way out of the midwife’s office, a gentleman walked up to me and said, “Ma’am you are very beautiful.” I said, “Aw thank you” with a smile. I thought he was just being nice. Then he said, “Do you have a husband or boyfriend?” “I have a husband,” I responded. “Oh, okay. Have a nice day,” he said, and walked away. I couldn’t believe he was asking me this. How did he think I got to be 39 weeks pregnant and wobbling to my car? That made my day, though.

The text messages between my doula and me explain what happened the next day….

January 22

8:34 a.m. me: good morning. I had my membrane swept yesterday. I have been up all night with something that feels like cramping and it is very uncomfortable. I am unable to tell if it is actual contractions. Sometimes it feels like it and sometimes it doesn’t. And very painful too

9:09 a.m. doula: comes and goes? Can you feel if your belly gets tight?

9:10 a.m. me: yes, comes and goes. Belly does get tight a little bit.

9:11 a.m. doula: keep drinking water. It could just be irritable but it could turn into something as well. Time how often you feel it. Sorry you were up.

9:13 a.m. me: I have been trying to time it but very irregular

9:14 a.m. doula: ok that’s alright. Just gives you an idea of what was and then you can compare if things change.

9:14 a.m. me: ok, will do.

9:15 a.m. doula: keep breathing slowly and keep me posted. Are you working today?

9:16 a.m. me: no, I called out today.

9:16 a.m. doula: smart. You should alternate rest with walking.

9:22 a.m. me: ok.

When my husband and I took our then-15-month-old daughter to her 15-month checkup, I was still having “contractions.”

5:10 p.m. doula: how did you do today? Did it settle down?

5:13 p.m. me: I was just about to text you. It has gotten worse. Starting to get a little more regular. Every 5 to 10 minutes between 30 and 45 seconds long.

5:20 p.m. doula: oh ok that’s good. Yes? Have you gotten some rest? And are you handling it ok?

5:23 p.m. me: it is good. Haven’t been able to nap yet. I am handling it ok so far.

5:27 p.m. doula: good, try to get some rest! You may be up again if you are going into labor! (Boy, was she right!)

8:35 p.m. doula: so any idea yet if tonight is the night???!

8:36 p.m. me: I think tonight is the night!! Just got out of the bathtub. Contractions are still coming.

8:38 p.m. doula: alright! What is your progress? Any changes from earlier? And that’s a good sign with the bath, because that will usually slow pre labor stuff.

8:42 p.m. me: (sent her a picture of what seems like a mucus plug) sorry if this is gross but I am also starting to poop a lot.

8:43 p.m. doula: oh yeah change is happening. Good hormones on board causing all that. How long are you wanting to wait at home with contractions? Your paperwork is in the car: as long as possible or more like 3-4 min apart?

8:47 p.m. me: probably 3 to 4 minutes. I am starting to need some help focusing.

8:55 p.m. doula: let me know whenever you want me to come – home first or when you go to the hospital.

8:56 p.m. me: ok.

9:31 p.m. me: contractions are pretty close together. Can you come to my house?

9:32 p.m. doula: sure. (Verified address, we had move into a new house). I am under half hour from it.

9:33 p.m. me: yes correct address

9:33 p.m. ok!

My doula got to my house about 15-20 minutes later. When she came in, I was leaning over the kitchen counter. At this time contractions were closer together, but still less than a minute long. When I had the next contraction, she asked me where I felt the pain. I pointed to my lower back, and she proceeded to give me a back massage. I said, “No, don’t touch, don’t touch!” She stopped massaging me. This was very weird because I love getting massages.

When my next contraction came, she very gently rubbed my back in a circular motion. That felt really good and calming. At this point my 15-month-old daughter knew something was wrong—mama was behaving very strangely. She followed me around the living room and even gave me a massage when I was on my hands and knees. My husband took a picture of her giving me a massage. She was very sweet.

An hour or so after my doula arrived at my house, I started having very intense contractions. They were very close together but still less than one minute long. My doula suggested that we head to the hospital before I got too uncomfortable to get in the car. We got in the car and headed for the hospital. I kept telling my husband not to hit any potholes. “I will try not to,” he responded.

We got to the hospital, which was 10 minutes from our house, at about 11 o’clock. We were in the emergency room for Lord knows how long. The receptionist was asking my husband all sorts of questions, while I was sitting in the wheelchair trying not to embarrass myself in front of everyone in the emergency room. I kept having very intense contractions, and my doula was there talking to me and rubbing my back.

On our way up to the triage, the nurse was pushing the wheelchair really quickly. I ask her to stop for a little bit because I had a very intense contraction. “I can’t,” she said,” because you could actually be having the baby right now.” Both my husband and doula said, “She’s not, just slow down please! She did not slow down. I was in too much pain to do or say anything.

The triage was very nice. It was a large room with a birthing tub. I asked if I could get into the birthing tub. The nurse said no because they don’t do VBAC water births. Plus, they needed to monitor my baby’s heart rate until she was out of the womb. At my previous midwife appointment, I asked her if I could get the mobile fetal monitor. “Yes,” she said, and added that to my file. I asked her to add to my file that no one should mention or suggest any pain medication while I was in labor. She said, “Yes, I will put that in big bold letters.”

For the first half-hour that I was in triage, I was attached to the bed monitor while the nurse went to find the mobile monitor. This tells me that not too many people request or uses the mobile monitor. I think we were admitted around 12:00 a.m. The nurse checked me and said, “You are about 1 to 2 cm dilated.” She said she was going to be back in an hour to check my cervix again. I was so disappointed I couldn’t believe that after all the pain I was in, I was still only 1 to 2 cm dilated. Labor was worse when I was lying in the bed. I kept asking for the mobile monitor so I could move around.

I finally got the mobile monitor, and started walking around the room. I sat on the toilet for a little bit, but was too uncomfortable to sit for too long. While I was in the bathroom, my doula found a little stool – probably what women used to climb into the tub for water births. She asked me to put one leg up on the stool and do squats when I got my next contraction. She said it would help open up the cervix, and would help make labor go faster. At this point I would have done anything to make labor go faster! I did some squats.

While doing squats, the nurse came in and said, “Your midwife wants me to wait for another hour before I check your cervix, so I will be back at 2:00 a.m.” I was in too much pain to comprehend anything. I heard my doula say, “That’s good; they’re giving us more time to labor alone.” I felt like labor got about a thousand times harder after doing those squats. I told my doula that I thought I would need an epidural. I was too tired; I hadn’t really slept in over 24 hours. “Okay,” she said; “Let’s see how far you have progressed. If you are at 4 or 5 cm dilated then we can talk about getting an epidural.” She would have talked me out of getting an epidural if I had been 5 cm dilated. She would have said, “You are halfway there. Let’s wait a few more hours to see how far you’ve progressed.

At 2:00 a.m. the nurse came in to check my cervix. I was in so much pain I did not want to be touched at all. I kept saying to my doula, “Just kill me now please. Just kill me now.” Labor was very, very intense at this point. I wanted it to be done. I wanted the pain to stop. Contractions felt like they were a minute apart and a minute long. Between contractions, the nurse checked my cervix. “Wow,” she said, “the cervix is completely gone and I can touch the bulging bag of water.” I was so out of it, I said, “What? Where did the cervix go? Don’t we need the cervix?” She said, “Let me go get the midwife.” At this point my husband had left the room to go get coffee. I wasn’t happy with him about that.

A few minutes later, the midwife came, checked my cervix, and said, “You are 10 cm dilated and I can feel your bag of water.” “Well, can I get an epidural now?” I asked her. “No,” she said, “You are already 10 cm dilated and about to push this baby out.” “Wait, what? I am about to push the baby out?” “Yes,” she said. As she was talking, I felt the bed start to move. I heard, “Let’s take her to room whatever.” As we got into the room, before they could get the bed attached to the wall and get everything situated, I got on my hands and knees. I felt a VERY intense contraction with an involuntary push and my water broke! As soon as that happened, I felt the baby’s head slide into the birth canal. I thought to myself, Oh crap. There is no going back now. I am about to actually birth a baby through my vajayjay!

There was meconium in the water, so my midwife called the NICU and two NICU nurses came in the room. I felt like the room was a little crowed with the two NICU nurses, my nurse, midwife, husband and doula, but I didn’t care. I wanted the baby out! I started pushing. The baby’s head would come out a little bit and then slide back in. I said, “Oh, the baby is going back in.” The midwife said, it’s ok, it will happen for a while.” Apparently, this was normal. I didn’t know. I only pushed with contractions. I was so tired; I had no energy or willpower to push without the intense force of the contraction. Every 1 to 2 minutes, I would say, “Here comes another one,” and would start screaming—I sounded like an animal! I was VERY vocal!

Anytime I would scream, my doula would come close to my ear and say, “Rita, put all the energy down in your bottom.” She would say this as she gently rubbed my back in a circular motion. Her touch was very comforting. At one point I heard the midwife saying, “Soon you are going to feel the ring of fire; just push through it.” Boy, did I feel the ring of fire, and It HURT like none other!!

I pushed on my hands and knees for a long time, then the nurse suggested I lie on my back. I lay on my back, and with maybe 3 VERY hard pushes, my baby girl was OUT!! My midwife said “YOU GOT YOUR PERFECT VBAC!” I kept saying, “I did it. I did it.” I couldn’t believe I had done it. My labor was not in vain. I really believed that I could, and I did it. The placenta followed shortly after. The baby wasn’t crying right away, so the NICU nurses took her to suction her up. This was surprising to me, because the baby was literally kicking on her way out. I could feel her legs still kicking as I was pushing her out. I pushed for 45 mintues. She was born at 2:45 a.m.

While they were suctioning up my baby, the midwife was giving me a few stiches. After they were done they put her on my chest. Oh, that feeling of having your baby placed on your chest is the best feeling in the whole world! She was and is the most beautiful baby ever (she and her sister!). After an hour of being on my chest, they took her off to weigh her. She weighed 7lbs 11.2 ounces and was 21inches long, with an APGAR score of 8/9. My first baby was 7lbs 9.2 ounces, and 21 inches long – almost the same birth weight. We were out of the hospital within 24 hours.

Why did I decide to right this birth story? I was inspired by the other women who wrote their successful VBAC stories. My goal is to encourage other women who are planning to have a VBAC; it is possible. I hope my story is an encouragement to you.

Unplanned Home Birth

Unplanned Home Birth

Hi all! Our little guy’s due date was January 20th, 2016. Being first-time parents, my husband and I were SO anxious to meet our son. I had a great pregnancy throughout, and continued to do CrossFit up until I was about 9 months along. I knew that I wanted a natural birth, and was determined to make it happen. We hired a doula and met with her a few times before the birth. It was so worth it and I would recommend a doula to any pregnant woman. We discussed everything from nutrition, providers and pain relief options to circumcision, vaccines and hospital procedures. I’m so glad we took the time to research and decide what kind of birth we wanted. There are so many things that the hospital makes you think you need to do that you really don’t have to do.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, right around Christmas, I had a little blood pressure scare (nothing serious, just scary for a first-time mama-to-be) and my feet and face were swelling up just enough to concern our midwife. After an ultrasound and listening to our babe for an extended amount of time, they determined he was as healthy as they come. On Monday, January 11th, I woke up at around 4 a.m. with what I know now, looking back, were very short contractions. They weren’t painful at all and I honestly didn’t think anything of them. Throughout the day I had a couple more times where I remember having to stop what I was doing and just breathe. How was I supposed to know what a contraction felt like?! At around 6 p.m. that evening, I was bouncing on my exercise ball in front of the TV to take my mind off of what I thought to be gas pains. When the pain started to get a little more intense, I started thinking that this was probably the start of my labor. I texted our doula, Megan, at around 10 p.m. and let her know what was going on. She wanted me to try lying down to get some rest or try taking a bath to relax. I tried taking the bath first; but it was too painful to sit in the tub. Then I tried lying in bed – too painful. After a lot of intense contractions, around midnight I told my husband we needed to call Megan and get her out to our house.

We had planned on laboring quite a bit at home then going to the hospital for delivery. While on the phone with Megan, she listened to me have a couple contractions and made an educated guess that our baby’s head was tilted a little bit, causing me to have back-to-back contractions with no break and then a small break. (I’m talking a break of MAYBE 30 seconds; so contraction, contraction, small break.) She mentioned that I should try to do some stairs to get his head straightened out and in the best possible position for delivery. She also told us to call her when we couldn’t handle it ourselves and wanted her out to our house.

It took me over an hour to get down and back up our stairs two times with my husband’s help. Finally, just a little before 3 a.m. we called her back and told her we needed her for support and reassurance. She was to our house by 3:15, and listened and helped me through some more contractions. My exercise ball was the absolute best thing during my labor. I was having a contraction on the toilet at 3:45 a.m. when my water broke. As soon as it broke, my husband put our hospital bag into the car and turned it on to warm it up. (It was about 10 degrees that night, roads were icy, and it was snowing).

I got up off the toilet and tried to make it to the car, but got no further than my living room chair when a contraction had me almost on my knees. I remember asking Megan how in the world I was going to make it to the hospital—a 40-minute drive on a good day—with contractions this strong. She told me I would take them as they came, one at a time. The only problem was that my contractions were so strong and close together that I didn’t get any breaks.

I remember learning that first-time mamas will usually push for at least an hour or two before getting to meet their sweet baby. My exact words to Megan after my water broke were, “I’ve never had a baby before, but I don’t think it’s going to take an hour or two.” I just told her that my body was telling me to push and I couldn’t help it.

I sat back down on the toilet and she had me feel up inside myself and describe to her what I felt. What I described to her must have sounded like a baby’s head. She had me get on my bed to check and see if I was right. I was! Our baby wasn’t going to wait to make his appearance! Megan was on the phone the entire time with our midwife, who was originally supposed to deliver our baby at the hospital. I remember Megan telling my husband that he could turn the car off because we weren’t going to make it to the hospital.

Once I knew we were really doing it – that we were really going to have our baby at home, I got on my hands and knees in my bed and pushed three times in a 30-minute span, and at 4:32 a.m. my husband caught Dirk Steven Synhorst as he joined our family!

Megan and my husband (and our midwife on the phone) had successfully talked me through the birth of my son, at home, unplanned, in my own bed. It was the most beautiful thing in my entire life. Right when Dirk came out, he immediately started crying and I knew he was just fine.

The most common question we get is, “Weren’t you so scared something would go wrong?” But truthfully, we didn’t have time to be scared. It all happened so quickly that we just did what we had to do. My husband was incredible the entire time and stayed so calm; he’s the best! Megan was a Godsend and I’m so thankful she was there with us. Dirk latched on to my breast almost immediately after placing him on my chest.

I delivered my placenta about 25 minutes later and we put it in a kitchen bowl beside me in bed because Dirk’s cord was still attached. I did have a very minor tear and I wanted to get Dirk checked over by our midwife in person, so we headed off for the hospital at around 6 a.m. with my baby snuggled right up on my chest, blankets covering us both, and my placenta in a big Ziplock bag.

I remember calling our parents and telling them we were heading to the hospital, but we already had their grandson with us. Dirk checked out just fine, weighing in at 8 Ibs 8.7 oz and 22” long; healthy as could be! We had to stay at the hospital for most of the day, mainly just waiting on paperwork. We had to get a special birth certificate for Dirk since he was born at home. We got back home around 5 p.m. and it’s been pure bliss being a family of three.

The most important thing I want expecting mamas to know is that YOU HAVE OPTIONS. You don’t have to have the kind of birth where you lie on your back with Pitocin and an epidural, suffering through so much pain. Of course I was in pain when I was in labor, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t stand and I knew my pain had a purpose! My body knew exactly what it had to do and it did it. What a miracle childbirth is, and I’m so excited and hopeful that God blesses me with more children!

Medication-Free Hospital VBAC

Medication-Free Hospital VBAC

Olivia shares her son Ethan’s birth story ­­– her own triumphant VBAC.

My daughter was born in 2008 via unnecessary cesarean at 40w4d; I never went into labor. I had a very hard time recovering physically and emotionally. I had a hard time bonding with her, and felt guilty for this reason. In the state that I was in, it was only pain. Ever since, I started to read everything I could about VBAC, stories and books, and I found ICAN – the webpage where it was a forum. That’s how I started to educate myself.

Fast forward to October 2015, when we found out we were expecting our second child: a little boy. We were super excited and I was very determined to have a natural, medication-free birth. I found a provider about an hour away from our house. Our local hospital has a VBAC ban; you have to arrive in pushing stage so they won’t make you have a cesarean. But this was a healthy pregnancy; happy mommy-to-be, happy family.

Everything went fine until one point, at 19 weeks, I was late to my doctor’s appointment; when I got there, I was panting and stressed out. For the first time, my blood pressure went high that day: 140/70. It was an isolated event so nobody paid to much attention to it. Then, at 26 weeks, I had another doctor’s appointment; again late, again high blood pressure. I told the nurse to give me a few minutes to calm down, but she took my BP as soon as I walked through that door, and again it was 140/70. And I had some sugar in urine – I had had cake right before I went in.

I was sent to do my 1-hour glucose test, which I failed with bright colors at 160! Automatically they sent me to do the 3-hour test plus the 24-hour urine test. The 3-hour glucose test results came back great, so no gestational diabetes. But I had a high value of protein in my urine: 540. They say over 300 is high, and combined with other symptoms, equals preeclampsia.

My blood pressure never went high again in my entire pregnancy. I previously had protein in my urine (I was a water diver and water polo player for 15 years, had lots of tests, and nobody ever figured out why I had protein in my urine). All other values remained normal, creatinine serum, liver enzymes, BUN value, etc., including my blood pressure. I was already labeled as a potential preeclampsia. I knew I was fine and didn’t have it.

Because of that, they kept a close eye on me, and I was living with constant fear that they would push for a cesarean. I had to have an ultrasound every week from week 36 until I gave birth. I must mention that I REFUSED completely any cervical check the entire pregnancy. We hired an amazing doula, who eventually became our close friend. And finally, the big day came.

I was two days overdue. I always knew somehow that I would go past 40 weeks. That day, I dropped my mother-in-law off at the mall and returned home. I took my daughter and two friends of hers to the pool. The kids were making fun of me, chasing me in the pool so that I would go into labor. They were telling other people that they have to make me swim so my labor will start because I am overdue. It was so much fun. I swam like crazy that day. My husband texted my at some point, telling me that he had a feeling that the baby would come that night.

I got home, took a hot bath, he cooked dinner and we went to bed. It was 10 p.m. At 11:43 p.m. I woke up feeling weird and restless. And I was CRAMPING! I was like, “OMG is this labor?” I couldn’t believe it. It was happening. I was waiting to feel that pain for eight-and-a-half years. Unbelievable. I started to see very light spotting on my underwear. It was my plug (never experienced that before). I texted my doula, and we talked for a while; I had contractions, but they felt like kidney pain or a UTI. I kept asking my doula if it was normal. Boy, I was so silly.

They became regular every 10 minutes, although not too strong. She told me to get some rest. I couldn’t, though, since I was so excited and anxious. She decided to come over. She arrived at 2:30 a.m., brought her kit with her, along with aromatherapy, some stress balls, oils and other stuff. My husband woke up eventually; I was making too much noise walking around, packing and talking on the phone. We sent him back to sleep since this was not going to be that easy and it would take time. My contractions were regular but not strong enough. I started to lose more and more of my plug. I couldn’t sleep at all. My doula took a nap, but I couldn’t. I was thinking that this is not such a big deal (I was so wrong).

The contractions remained constant – every 10 minutes for 45-50 seconds. They were getting more intense. At 10 a.m. I had breakfast and continued to labor on my birthing ball, on the couch, against the kitchen counter, over the sink… everywhere! I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early, because of their time frame regarding births.

At 12 p.m. we decided to go to the hospital, it is a one-hour drive, so we took off. We had a friend picking up our 8-year-old daughter. I had my husband, his mother and my doula with me the whole time.

We got to the hospital and it went very fast with the registration. I got to the triage room and as we waited to get seen by the nurse, my water broke. I was shocked! We were going to have a baby! The nurse came, I refused the cervical check, but she confirmed that my water broke and admitted us. My contractions came every five minutes after that.

We went up to the labor and delivery department. They wanted to start an IV; I refused and told them that I don’t want any intervention, nor anesthesia. I had a hep-lock, for “just in case”.

Because I was a VBAC mom, the hospital required that I was continuously monitored; so I had a wireless monitor so that I could move around. Everybody gave me space, and let my body do its job. The staff was coming to check if I needed anything, and to make sure we were fine. They were great the entire time. Nobody made any pressure; they respected our wishes and were very respectful and polite.

I was laboring on and on and on and on! I had my stress ball, which helped me through each contraction. I surrendered to the pain, embraced it and remained focused at all times. I had only horrible lower back pain (quite in my rectum area) – I never had front pain throughout the entire labor. It was very weird. We thought that the baby was posterior, but it wasn’t!

I walked, danced and bent any way that I could. My doula was putting pressure against my back, while my mother-in-law was putting cold compresses on my forehead as I leaned over my husband. I was for sure in labor land! My body was there, but my mind was in a trance. I was moaning every once in a while. I had my own breathing pattern, which worked great with the contractions.

At 11 p.m. the doctor insisted that she check me, as she wanted to know where I was at. She really insisted, and I had to pick up which fight to fight. So I agreed. After 24 hours of labor, was 4 centimeters! “Good Lord, what I’m going to go through,” I thought! The contractions got stronger and stronger. At 4 a.m. I was checked again and I was at 7-8 centimeters. That was great, but I didn’t really care too much; I was in pain, and I knew that I would make it!

I was so tired the entire time, but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat, either; I had food hidden in my bag, but was not into it. I had a great time chewing ice chips. I had horrible heartburn so I asked for the nurse for some Tums. The morning came; my doula never took her hands of me; she talked to me and helped me relax. I would have not made it without her. My husband and his mother took a nap and I was so jealous of them. I was imagining myself sleeping.

Around 8 a.m., things got way too far and my doula called for the nurse, telling her that she thought I was ready. She could tell that by watching me during contractions. My contractions were so close together that actually I thought it was just one long contraction! It was incredibly long and painful. I kept switching positions, and I used the squatting bar too. The nurse, midwife and a bunch of other staff came in. There was a training midwife, too.

I got checked and I was complete and ready to push. I just didn’t want to push; I wanted to wait for the urge to push (which, by the way, never came). So they told me that I had to since I had been in active labor for 34 hours; I had to get it done. The doctor came; she was an ex-military doctor – a very tough woman, which at the beginning scared the soul out of me. (She was nice, but she was looking very intimidating to me at that stage). She respected all my wishes and was very professional, and she made it happen!

Because of that, my contractions stopped! I couldn’t believe it! After 35 hours! With the baby’s head visible! I had to regroup myself and stop being scared.

She said that I needed a little Pitocin for my contractions to pick up. That was the devil to me. I started to yell that I would not be able to manage the Pitocin without the epidural, and I didn’t want that. I was scared that would stress the baby; and then, after 35 hours of labor, to end up with the cesarean. Well, I had to agree because my contractions stopped completely.

So the Pitocin drip started, but my hep-lock was not properly inserted and nothing actually went into my veins (they figured it out after I gave birth). My doula did nipple stimulation. That’s when my contractions came back again, and I got back on track. I was pushing on my back with my chin tucked in, and holding my thighs. That’s the only position that worked for me. I had a mirror, and was able to see everything while it was happening.

Not a single time had I thought about my scar; I never had pain during labor, and I never had been worried. They offered the oxygen mask, which gladly I took. The head was almost out when I heard the doctor saying, “We have a hand!” His left hand was on his head, just a little bit over the left ear. The head came out and the doctor told me to stop; but I just couldn’t and pushed like my life depended on it. That’s when he came out very quickly, giving me a third-degree tear.

I pushed for two hours, and at 10:18 a.m. on June 22, 2016, baby Ethan was born; at 40w4d, after 36 hours of intense pain and a medication-free labor. He was 8 lbs and 11 oz and 21 inches long. He was right on my chest, purple and full of blood, and he started to cry immediately. The cord stopped pulsing and my husband cut it. Right away the placenta came out.

I started to heavily bleed and the doctor was pressing with one hand on my belly, and with the other one she was cleaning me inside. That’s when I started screaming. That pain was horrible; but she had to. I lost more than 500 ml of blood. She gave me a shot of Pitocin and a rectal Cytotec suppository to cramp the uterus and stop the bleeding. In about seven minutes I was fine; the bleeding had stopped and she started to stitch me up.

It was quite scary for them (I always felt that I was fine); the room was filled with staff, including ICU for my son, but things turned out fine and he nursed right away. My family from Romania (that’s where I’m from) watched the last two hours via FaceTime, so they saw my son coming into this world. Altogether, it was the most amazing experience I had. It was hard work and I had an incredible pain tolerance; I had no idea I was capable of something as huge as Ethan’s birth.

I had my VBAC, I had my healing and victorious birth, and I was so proud of myself. Everybody was cheering and my husband was crying like a baby. I could not have done it without my amazing doula. She was my rock, my shoulder and my mind when I lost my own.

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