Browsed by
Category: Birth Stories & Pictures

The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part II

The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part II

Kara shares with us the powerful story of her son’s birth. Read Part I here

At around 7:15 a.m., I decided it was time to get in the birth tub. I ripped off my skirt and hopped in. The water was so warm. I felt my tense legs relax a bit. I had another contraction, and the water, as always, soothed me. During that wave, I remember that voice inside my head saying, “It’s almost time to push. On the next wave, your body will push.” I still doubted a bit, but was willing to do nothing, and let my body work. As with my previous two labors, cervical checks weren’t needed… Letting my body do good work without involving my mind and the doubt or hopes that could arise.

My contractions began to space out a bit, giving me that amazing break before the final part of labor. I was able to focus and look around. Malory put cold washcloths on my head. The next wave came, and sure enough, pushing came with it. I reached inside and could feel my baby’s head moving down. One of the most amazing things I experienced during this labor was feeling the baby’s energy. With my hand, I could feel a swirling and buzzing coming from inside of me. I’ll never forget the power that was coming out of me. It was so amazing.

Contractions were coming fast now; and with every one, my body pushed hard. I gripped the side of the pool, planted my feet, and bore down. Very soon, I could feel my baby’s head coming out. The feeling was such a relief. As the head slipped out, baby spun all the way around. It was a crazy feeling to see and feel the head turning on the outside world, and feel the body spin, still tucked inside. Truly in two different worlds. There’s nothing like feeling that soft, baby head as it is being born — the bones molding, the firm skull, the silky hair, the awareness of knowing your baby with your touch, but not yet with your sight. I felt baby’s face then, with my hand, and gave one last push. And then, I held my whole baby.

Robinson (Robin) Blake Sylvester was born at 7:48 a.m. I brought him up on my chest, facing the world. His cord was wrapped once around his neck, and easily slipped over his head as he joined us. I started to cry, which I have never done! He was beautiful, and radiated peace as he took his first breath of air. He had no vernix, like his older sisters did, since he decided to stay inside a bit longer.

“We did it!” I cried, and looked around at the smiling, crying, loving faces surrounding me. There is no more wonderful feeling than welcoming your child into a peaceful room filled with kind, caring people who love you and your baby so much.

I held my first son in the water for a while, then got out to deliver the placenta. Tessa and Nadia cut the cord, and daddy held Robin skin-to-skin as I made my way to the bed to relax and nurse. He nursed a bit, but much more reluctantly than his older sisters. He is still that way, five days later – taking his time, and in no hurry. I expect my little guy may always be that way… A good reminder that life doesn’t need to be rushed.

The birth team hung around awhile, doing their checks, taking photos, writing notes, and making me a smoothie. They took such amazing care of both of us. I have been moved to tears over the last few days thinking about my awesome team—how lucky I am to now have birthed three babies with them, exactly the way I wanted, without interference, pressure or expectation. They trust my body just as much as I do (maybe more!), only bringing support and safety when my babies and I need it. Isn’t that what all women should expect as they bring forth new life?

We all had mimosas and of course a “Cheers!” to this beautiful new little boy – the first Sylvester boy since Bryan was born 37 years ago. We both checked out perfectly, and snuggled in to bed. Never did I think that by 8:00 a.m., I’d be in my blankets, surrounded by love, kissing my newborn son.

The girls all got a chance to hold him — Nadia, then Tessa, then Sybil; and then we weighed him: 6lbs, 7oz and 20 inches long. We were all shocked at his size! He was a pound lighter than the girls, and almost two weeks later! He had blondish brown hair, long fingernails and a birthmark or bruise on his right arm. He had a dimple in his chin and one on each cheek.

The birth team and my mom then packed up to leave, giving us warm hugs and kisses as they said goodbye. By lunchtime, our new family of six was all alone, starting the fun, chaos, and beauty of three daughters and a son.

Read Part I of Robinson’s birth story here.

Photographs by Amanda E Photography

The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part I

The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part I

Kara shares with us the powerful story of her son’s birth.

In October 2015, we found out we were expecting our fourth little miracle. It was a definite surprise to us, coming sooner than we had planned. There was no trying, or medications, or hoping month after month like the last time. It was definitely not our timing at work, but God’s timing, perfect as always. We quickly became excited, especially after seeing how joyful our three daughters were when they heard the news. Our youngest, Sybil, was 16 months at the time, which would make her newly two when she became a big sister. Although that is a fairly good age gap, it was much closer than our others, so new for us. However, I knew if anyone could handle it, it would be my happy, independent, chatterbox Sybbie.

The pregnancy went well. We were planning for our third home birth (Tessa was a hospital birth) with our lovely midwife, Brande, and her assistant, Malory. All three girls were born in the 39th week, so we assumed our fourth would be about the same, or maybe even earlier.

The end of my pregnancy had a few ups and downs. Bryan and I took a trip in my 38th week, and I ended up very sick with dehydration and sun poisoning. This lead to a hospital visit with IV fluids and a UTI – not a very fun way to wrap up a pregnancy. I ended up having pretty awful anxiety during this time. I was feeling so terribly, and was so afraid that I would go into labor feeling so sick. I didn’t think I had the strength for both. I was sick for a good 10 days, nervous all the time that the baby was coming. It didn’t, however. Baby stayed put, and my outlook began to change. I felt better physically, emotionally, and mentally and I knew I was ready to take on this birth when it happened.

By this time, I was nearing my due date of July 4, 2016. We thought I would surely have the baby the weekend before the 4th and we would be cuddling a newborn as fireworks blasted outside. How surprised we were when the day came and subsequently passed. Never had I been pregnant on a due date! And then another day passed, and another, and another… Bryan was wondering if he would ever get to stop going in to work every morning!

I remember a few days after my due date, it was early morning, and there was a big, booming thunderstorm. All the girls were cuddled up in our bed with us, and we all took turns telling the baby that it was safe to come out and that we were all so excited to meet them. That today would be a great day for a birthday. It was such a sweet moment. But still, baby waited.

I went to bed early the night of July 8th. I wanted to have energy and rest just in case baby would come that night. I felt totally normal. I hadn’t really had many practice contractions throughout the entire pregnancy. I was feeling good and positive, but not at all like I would be heading in to labor soon. It was a Friday night, so Bryan was home for the weekend. We hoped he wouldn’t be going back on Monday morning!

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 with a nice, strong wave. Even through the fog of sleepiness, I knew within the first second that this was it. There is something about a “real” contraction – it’s not that is more painful or stronger than a practice one… It’s just real and somehow your body and brain knows that. I decided to try and go back to sleep. I was woken up again about 10-15 minutes later with another. I got up to use the bathroom and tried again to go back to bed. The same pattern happened again. Around 4:00 a.m., I woke Bryan to tell him I was getting in the shower and that I was definitely going to have our baby today.

I took my shower, and Bryan got out of bed after that. Around 4:30, I decided to call my friend/doula/birth assistant Malory and let her know what was going on. She was excited and told me to update her in the next hour. At this point, Bryan was timing my waves, and they were right at 3-4 minutes apart. They were getting more intense and I was starting to vocalize through them. Instead of waiting the hour to update Malory, I texted her 10 minutes later and asked her to head our way.

The next 45 minutes was just Bryan and me. It was a really special and memorable time for me. The sun was rising, pink and blue and orange, and we were out on our back deck talking and taking breaks through contractions. It was going to be a hot July day, but the morning was mild and cool. The birds were all singing happily and even a bat swooped down, chirping all around us. It was a truly beautiful start to labor, as I moaned loudly through waves with the sun rising over the cornfield behind us. Our girls were all still in bed, unaware that today was the day they would have a new baby to love.

At some point I lit my candles from my Blessingway, and posted in my group of mommas, asking for them to light their candles as well, and send positive labor thoughts my way.

My photographer, Amanda, was leaving on vacation this morning. I was so sad in the previous days that she was going to possibly miss the birth. I wasn’t sure what time she was leaving, so just decided at the last minute to send her a text and check if she could come for awhile before leaving on her trip. Little did I know, she had decided that if I called after 5:00 a.m., she wouldn’t be able to make it. I texted her at 4:45 asking her if she could come. It was such a crazy coincidence that she made it. I was literally overjoyed when she said she was on the way…Nothing like the last minute!

I also called Brande, my midwife, around 5:00 to let her know today was baby day. She told me to have Malory give her an update once she arrived. I called my mom as well to let her know to head over (and bring donuts!). She was the caregiver for the girls.

Malory arrived at about 5:30 a.m., and I was so happy to see her. We made coffee and joked with Bryan. She came outside with us and supported me through my waves, which were still about 3-4 minutes apart and quickly gaining in intensity. I remember at some point thinking “I hope I have the baby by 10:00 a.m.” and then Bryan jokingly saying “We could still be doing this at 10:00 p.m.!”… He got a death glare for that one. Our neighbor was also outside, and had quite a puzzled look each time I started moaning.

After this, Amanda arrived to take photos and my midwife Brande arrived as well, quietly setting up her equipment. My mom came, and the girls started waking up one by one. First Baby Sybil, who was a bit nervous when she saw all of the people and heard momma making loud sounds. She quickly woke up though, had some breakfast, and joined the fun. Then Tessa woke up, and woke up Nadia as well saying, “Mom’s in labor!”. Nadia didn’t believe her at first, until she came up and saw for herself. They all got dressed in their “Big Sister” shirts and were set to meet their baby. The big girls said since this was their second and third times being at a birth, it was pretty easy for them.

By this time it was around 6:30 a.m. My contractions were pretty intense by now, and I was making really deep, loud, long noises through them. I remember calling for Malory if one started and she wasn’t right next to me. She did an amazing job of reminding me to breathe between moans, and her presence calmed me. Each wave I would close my eyes and go somewhere else. I thought a lot of the ocean. I felt pretty calm and centered at this point. It was almost like I was seeing it all play out in my mind. I could tell myself what was coming next.

I thought I may be close to transition, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up, either. I started to get that far away feeling, shaking my head no, and saying I couldn’t do it. I then let myself believe that yes, transition was coming, and I completely released myself to it. Even though there were people around me, I felt so deep within myself. I felt focused and in my own head during waves. There was my body, doing all the work, knowing how to do it, and doing it well, and there was my brain, always with a bit of doubt and disbelief, but telling me that it was ok, and knowing deep down that I would soon meet my baby.

My contractions were close together now. I could feel my baby’s body moving so far down. I could feel the head coming into my pelvis with each wave. I remembered to stay loose in my throat and jaw and bottom and voice as I walked throughout the house.

During one contraction, I was walking down the hallway, moaning low and long. I turned around, and my sweet two-year-old Sybil was following right behind me, moaning with her eyes closed as well, making everyone giggle. I told myself through the next wave, that I was giving my daughters such a beautiful gift. Time after time they saw normal birth, and the sheer strength and capability of a woman and her body.

Read Part II of Robinson’s birth story here.

Photographs by Amanda E Photography

VBAC Birth Story

VBAC Birth Story

Here’s some background about my first labor/birth that ended in a Caesarean:

I planned to deliver at the local birth center. At 41 weeks and 5 days we started induction, with a foley only. I dilated to 8cm before labor stalled. We transferred to the hospital with plans of doing a Pitocin induction, but that never happened – my baby’s heart rate dropped into the 40s and did not come back up. I was on my hands and knees in the bed, and watched the nurse push the code blue button. As a nurse myself, its incredibly surreal hearing a code called and realizing that this time you are the patient. I was rushed to the OR, where I begged for a spinal, and my wish was granted. I got to hear my baby’s first cry, hear what gender HE was, and kiss his sweet face before they took him to the NICU. My 7lb 4oz, 21″ long baby boy was born at 41 weeks and 6 days, after 44 hours of labor, and spent 2 days in the NICU. It was about eight hours until I was able to hold him as I had to wait for the anesthesia to wear off before I could get out of bed. The hardest part was not being able to see my long awaited baby. I had to greet my family without a baby in my arms; I didn’t even know what he looked like.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy.

I was determined to have a different outcome, and found a practice that was extremely supportive of VBACs. I went post dates again and was miserable, terrified that I would never go into labor on my own because I hadn’t with my first. I was emotionally spent. I couldn’t deal with waking up another morning pregnant and going to bed STILL pregnant. At my last appointment I convinced my provider to induce me at 40 weeks and 5 days. I did not feel comfortable going past 41 weeks given my first experience.

Contractions started Friday night (40+3)—maybe every 10-15 minutes. I told my husband to get some sleep, and that I’d be on the couch and would wake him up if things got serious. Contractions were long—at least a minute—which I found encouraging compared to my first labor, where they were only about 45-50 seconds apiece. I had the TV on all night, but I wasn’t paying attention. I had to be upright during contractions and couldn’t tolerate sitting – too much pelvic pressure. I was listening to Hypnobabies “baby come out” for awhile.

I finally forced myself to lie down and sleep when contractions were happening about every 20 minutes or so. When daylight came, nothing was happening, except I was exhausted. This was a familiar experience since the same thing had happened with my son. My husband took our toddler grocery shopping so I could rest. I hardly did anything on Saturday; maybe had a contraction here or there. At 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, I called the hospital to confirm induction and they said it was game on. This is when I’m saying labor truly started (although I didn’t believe it).

I called my mother-in-law and told her to come to our house around 5:15 p.m. When she arrived, I was having contractions that made her and my husband tell me we needed to get to the hospital. I thought they were crazy; contractions were uncomfortable, but I didn’t think it was serious labor. Saying goodbye to my toddler wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be—probably because I was so uncomfortable. When we got near the hospital, my husband asked if we could stop at McDonald’s; I said that was fine, since my contractions were happening every 4-6 minutes.

When we got to the hospital, we parked and I waddled slowly to the lobby. We were early and I was worried they wouldn’t take me because of it. The woman at the desk took one look at me and said, “Let’s get you to your room; you look like you’re in labor. You’re the scheduled induction, right?” I probably looked at her like she was crazy. I was thinking, “Why does everyone think I’m in labor? I’m not!”

I was delighted to see we got a nice labor suite; but the only downside was it had a shower, not a tub. I wasn’t sure if they used the nicer rooms for VBACs or not. The nurses came in and tried to start an IV. She blew my vein after not listening to me as to where to put it. I have good veins. The bruises from that lasted for a few weeks after. The midwife George came in and asked to check me. I was not feeling optimistic. He said, “Well, you’re at a 6 and seem to be contracting well; I don’t see a need for induction.” I was floored and expressed my disbelief. I was still fully expecting to be on Pitocin. George told me he never jokes about a woman’s vagina. I couldn’t believe it. I was 6cm and still didn’t think I was in serious labor! I asked to get in the shower. I labored there on my knees, bent over a bench. The floor was hard so I was kneeling on a towel. This is where my husband asked me if I wanted more kids after this.

I kept shifting positions, and baby was falling off the monitor. I kept asking how baby was, and baby was always perfect. My knees finally got too sore, so I went to the bed. My midwife came in and wanted to check me. I was standing upright and needed something to brace myself on, and he was the nearest sturdy object – so I hugged him tight. He checked me, and I was a 7. That’s when things got serious.

I got in bed and was half kneeling and had the back of the bed completely upright. I couldn’t tolerate being in any other position. Awhile later, the nurses came in and I was struggling. I wanted to climb the walls and pound on the bed. A  nurse offered me pain relief and after discussing it with my husband and my mom, I decided for a Nubain IV. It worked quickly and I started feeling a bit drunk. The nurse asked me to sit down since I was kneeling. I remember thinking, like when you’re drunk, “She knows!” And I asked if I looked that loopy but promised I wouldn’t fall backward.

The Nubain was a godsend. It made things more tolerable, as contractions were on top of each other. I was thinking, “This HAS to be transition…” because I wanted to die—or at least escape from my body. An hour after the Nubain, since I knew it was fairly short-acting, I asked if I could have more when it wore off. The nurse told me that generally it’s a one-time dose; so I decided I wanted an epidural. I was putting it off because I knew I needed a fluid bolus over 30-60 minutes and I was hoping I would run out of time.

I started having doubts like I did with my son, about how I could push a baby out when I could barely think about surviving the contraction. The epidural was administered at 10:30, when I was 8cm. It brought sweet relief. Contractions felt only like Braxton Hicks and I was able to rest. I believe that’s when they broke my water. My husband even took a short nap.

Around 1:45, a bunch of nurses rushed in and started asking me to change positions because baby’s heart rate was down. I had a flashback to my son’s birth and thought, “Well, we tried. I’m going to have another C-section.” My midwife came in, checked me, and said I was complete. I said, “NO WAY, you’re kidding.” He said, “We have been through this before and you need to start believing me!” I laughed then turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “We get to actually have a baby!!”

So pushing began. My mom was holding a leg, and my husband held my head. All too quickly I heard George say that I only need small pushes. I thought, “What?! That means baby is almost here and I’ve hardly even begun to push.” I could also tell from how excited my mom was sounding. So I asked to touch the head and felt her soft, wet hair. I leaned as far forward as I could to see her come out. She was purple and slimy, and A GIRL! I got to announce her gender to the room. She was on my chest immediately. I couldn’t believe it. I got my VBAC and my baby girl. I had a front-zip bra on so I was able to pop my breasts out immediately. She snuggled on my chest for a little, taking in the world. Then she started to crawl towards my left nipple and latched herself right on.

Labor was 9 hours and 42 minutes. I pushed for 16 minutes.

Charlotte was born on Sunday, August 14th at 2:12 a.m., at 40 weeks and 5 days, 7lbs, 3.5oz and 20″ long.

Elena and Tobias Come Home: A Twin Birth Story

Elena and Tobias Come Home: A Twin Birth Story

Jennifer McLennan shares with us the beautiful story of her twins’ birth in 2015. 

As I sit down to finally write into words the story of my twins’ birth, I am watching them sleep in their bed from my desk. They are about to turn one. They are strong and healthy and not a day goes by that I don’t send out a mental thank-you note to the universe for their vitality.  So, it’s obvious that this story has a happy ending, but to tell their story I need to backtrack to a not-so-happy time.

Between the birth of my son, Caio, in 2011, and the birth of the twins in 2015, I experienced two pregnancy losses; one at 13 weeks, and one at 7 weeks. The depth of grief I experienced completely blind-sided me. My world view and self perception were shaken, my confidence plummeted and my marriage was challenged. I felt guilty, lost and out of control. I turned inward for healing and really took the time to examine my reasons for wanting another child. I consulted with a trusted fertility specialist who suggested taking progesterone during early pregnancy if we wanted to try again. I did a lot of self work to arrive at a centered and healthy place, and as a family we decided to try one more time.

In March 2015 I took a home pregnancy test, and those two little pink lines showed up right away. Pregnancy after loss is such a cacophony of emotion: the excitement and joy is all mixed up with a lot of fear. I decided early on that I was going to focus on the things I could control, and do the best I could to let the rest go. I talked to that little being in my belly every day, and the thing I said most often was, “I love you already. Please stay if you can, but I understand if you have to go.” I created a small altar out of objects that were meaningful for me and tried to sit there for a few moments each day. As each week passed safely I added a new rock, shell or other item that felt right. We chose not to share this pregnancy with many people early on, but those in my intimate circle also gave me little things to place on the altar. This process was so empowering as it reminded me of all the support I had and helped me to stay centered through those passing early weeks. I tried to remember to just enjoy each moment with my baby, even if our time together was to be short. In keeping with the feeling of needing to stay very internal with this pregnancy, I did consult my midwife but chose to decline an early ultrasound.

The weeks went by; my altar grew, and so did my belly! A lot! By 10 weeks I was starting to get some raised eyebrows and sideways glances. When we did finally start to share the news, there was much whooping and cheering and hugging and people asking, “Wait…are you SURE about your dates??” By 16 weeks, our midwife did recommend that we go for an ultrasound as my uterus was measuring large (I was very sure of my dates!), to check for excess fluid or MULTIPLES. I have no family history of twins so I honestly didn’t think about the possibility very seriously.

As we entered the ultrasound office, my heart was in my throat. I was so excited to see this little one, and desperately wanted everything to be normal and healthy. The moment that his wand touched my belly, the technician said, “Oh look…twins!!!” I started to laugh and cry at the same time and my partner Julio was speechless, pale, and had to sit down. We got to see their beautiful spines and perfect limbs and Caio (then 3) asked again and again…two babies?? There are two babies in mamas belly?? I felt about the same level of incredulity.  When asked if we wanted to know the sexes we said, “Yes yes yes please” and discovered that I was carrying one boy and one girl. Walking out the office beaming and beaming, I couldn’t help but think: they came back. Two gone and two returned. An unforgettable day.

Knowing that this was now a multiple pregnancy, the focus of my meditations changed. I asked friends and family around the world to join me in holding the intention of full-term, healthy babies. I had to move through a lot of fear around the idea of having premature babies, and I was honestly terrified of a Caesarean section. Having had a beautiful experience with the home birth of my first son, I had assumed that a natural birth would be possible again this time around. The C-section rate with twins is extremely high here in Costa Rica where we live – around 98%. Working closely with my midwife (who had been with me for Cai’s birth), we decided against a home birth for the twins. After interviewing several OBs, we found a fantastic one who was willing to attend at a fully equipped birthing center, and to work with my midwife as co-caregivers. By this time I had come to a place where I was honestly fine with however these babies needed to come into the world. We made a plan for a respectful and loving caesarean, and a plan for a peaceful, natural birth. Whatever needed to happen for them to come earthside safely, that’s what we would do. I asked the babies to show us, when the time came, how they needed to be born. I learned so much from this process of birth plan re-creation. My belief in my right to choose a birth team of individuals with whom I felt safe, supported and listened to was reaffirmed, and my mind was opened to the potential beauty of Caesarean birth.

The pregnancy proceeded very normally. I followed the Brewers Diet for Twins (high protein, low sugar) hoping to avoid Gestational Diabetes. GD is common in multiple pregnancies, but never did develop in mine. I knew that position-wise the best chance for a natural birth would be to have both babies head-down. I added that request to our daily chats and meditations, and at each and every ultrasound, sure enough, both babies were head down. The weeks seemed to fly by, and pretty soon my belly was a party of bumpy knees and elbows. As huge as I was, I so so so loved feeling them dance around with each other. I truly felt my network of friends of family hold me and the babies up as we got closer and closer to full-term—36 weeks for twins.

We passed our full-term milestone and headed into week 37. My mum arrived from Canada, and it was such a relief to have her help. Then came week 38. I was overjoyed that they were now big, healthy babies, but things were starting to get really shockingly enormous and uncomfortable! At my appointment on Monday, November 30th, at 38 weeks 4 days, there was good news and bad news. Babies were in great shape, both still head-down with lots of water, and I was 1 cm dilated with a nice soft cervix! The bad news was that my blood pressure had started to climb. It was still in the safe zone, but needed to be watched closely. We had daily check-ups from then on, and every Braxton Hicks sent me into major excitement mode. I was so ready to meet these people already! Sleep was just not happening by that point, so at night I would get up and waddle around (and eat! I was starving ALL the time!) until I was tired enough to lie back down.

When we checked in with our OB on Friday (39 weeks 1 day) I was 3 cm dilated, well effaced but still no contractions! This was incredible for me as during my first child’s birth I had worked for about 10 hours of HARD labor to get to 3 cm. My blood pressure was still creeping up so it was time to make some choices. My OB explained that my body and the babies were all giving thumbs up signals for birth. He felt that for safety’s sake we would need to induce labor Saturday afternoon if things hadn’t started up on their own by then. I remember him saying that “It seems like those babies are listening to you so tell them it’s go time!”  He also offered me the option of a stretch and sweep in addition to the homeopathics we were already working with to give the babes one more nudge towards the exit. I accepted the stretch and sweep and while not exactly comfortable, it did let me practice breathing to stay relaxed.

We left the office around 2 p.m. and went straight home. I grabbed my iPod and climbed straight into a hammock. I know, I know… an almost-40-weeks-pregnant-with-twins mama does not just nimbly hop into hammock: it was a bit of a struggle, but so worth it! Through the whole pregnancy, hammock time had helped take pressure off my back and really relaxed me. After about half an hour of rocking and some gentle Braxton Hicks, I noticed that the contractions were getting more intense, becoming a tightening all across my lower belly. They also started to get closer together. I didn’t want to sound a premature alarm and I was really comfortable where I was, so I stayed rocking, listening to music and breathing deeply through each wave of sensation. Time started to warp so I’m not sure exactly how long I stayed like that, but soon the downward pressure in my pelvis was getting intense and I wanted to walk around. I ate a huge bowl of pineapple and told Julio that I thought things were happening but it would be a while. He left me on the patio dancing with my belly with instructions to call him the next time I felt a wave.

About 30 seconds later, I was yelling for him and he came rushing out with the phone ready to call the midwife! I told him I thought it would be a long while yet but to call her to let her know what was going on. I got on the phone with her and she asked to hear me breathe through a wave. I breathed, she listened, and promptly told us to meet her at the birthing center with no waiting around! I spent a few more waves outside watching the sunset (It was about 5:30 p.m. by now), sent a few messages to let our closest friends know what happening, then we kissed my mum and our son and were on our way to the center. It was about an 8-minute drive and I remember a song on the radio with the words “just breathe”. I breathed through the waves rolling through me and still didn’t believe we would be holding babes any time soon.

We arrived at the center just ahead of our OB, and got settled in as he gave me a check. The babies were doing great and I was 6cm dilated! I was SO delighted and amazed, and felt a new surge of excitement and energy lift me up. Our doc left to give us privacy and I walked around the room and danced and rocked to our birthing playlist, joking around with my partner. I set up a mini version of my home altar, and lit some birthday candles for the babies. About an hour later our midwife (who had been stuck in traffic) made it and could take over checks. She had brought her birthing stool with her and we got it ready in case that felt right for me when the time came. I was getting very pacey and she suggested some time in the shower. I took off my dress and getting under that hot water felt absolutely divine. I turned my face into a corner, pressed my forehead against the tile and got deep into my birthing rhythm. I rocked my hips, tapped one hand against the wall and vocalized with mmmm and ahhhhh. I can’t say why that felt right but it just did and I really got into the pleasure of this experience, the sensuality and the intimacy of birth. I felt tightening and loosening of my muscles and just tried to keep my mouth soft as I visualized baby A getting lower and lower.

When I felt ready for a change in location I climbed onto the bed and tried a few different positions. What felt right was reclining propped with pillows behind my back, knees bent and soles of feet touching with very open hips, arms at my sides with palms up. I could feel myself starting to resist and tighten as the waves went deeper and deeper and tried to let go, keeping my hands and mouth soft and open as sounds of aahhhhmmmm came through me. I remember dim soft lights, the candles glowing, my music playing. I remember my partner, my OB and my midwife in the room chatting quietly or just sitting respectfully. I remember getting a very strong image in my mind of each and every person in my circle of love holding hands and surrounding me and the babies, each sending me energy and taking a bit of my discomfort for me. I found out later that groups of my loved ones in several different parts of the world were in fact meditating for us at exactly this moment (goosebumps!); I was flooded with such a sense of safety and well-being, seeing all of those loving faces around me. I felt nauseous at one point but didn’t actually vomit (in hindsight, this was transition!). Soon after this I gave permission to be checked, and I was 9 cms at around 9 p.m.

I got up and held Julio’s shoulders as we danced away that last centimeter, and our midwife and OB made final preparations. Some fear was sliding around the edges of my consciousness now as it really hit me that TWO PEOPLE were about to come out of me and I wanted so badly for them to be safe. His confidence in me and the strength of our connection were what grounded me in that moment and sent me forward. As we danced I felt the rhythmic squeezing of my uterus move lower and lower and the waves were right on top of each other. I felt that my body was starting to push on its own and my partner helped me onto the birthing stool. As soon as I sat all the way down, one of the water bags broke and I felt such intense pressure in my vagina, I instantly bore down and pushed with all my might.

Until this point my vocalizations had been soft and low, and my energy had been calm, light and peaceful. The sounds that came out of my mouth now surprised everyone in the room, myself included. It was as if all the despair, the sorrow, the rage and the joy of the last two years came ripping up my throat and out of my mouth. I roared. I howled. It was a wild, raw, almost feral sound. I was so deep inside myself, reaching for the most profound strength I possessed. With my first push, my son’s head crowned. Two pushes later and he was born. I was panting and gasping and kept saying, “He’s here he’s here he’s here!!” My midwife had caught him and as she held him up he immediately opened his huge dark eyes and started looking around, taking it all in.  She handed him up to me and I held him to my heart for a moment before another massive contraction ripped through me, and I passed him to my partner. I could feel baby number 2 moving down very quickly and I remember locking eyes with my midwife and saying, “I can’t do this again!!” She stroked my leg and reassured me, and I remember glancing up at my partner holding our new son, and thinking “Okay, let’s do this. I want those babies in my arms!!”

I closed my eyes and found a reserve of energy and power that I hadn’t realized was in me and pushed my daughter out into the world, just 7 minutes after her brother. Knowing them now, their attitudes at birth fit so perfectly. My son is extremely active, inquisitive and in constant motion. Of course he was born eyes open, ready for adventure! My daughter is a very mellow, easygoing yet cautious person, and she does things when she’s good and ready, including landing earth-side. She was quite blue in her first moments and did not immediately breathe. After a few seconds of rubbing, our midwife leaned in to give a breath into her mouth. Just as panic began to rise in me, my little girl took a huge breath, turned pink and started squaking as she moved her limbs and took in the scene around her. They handed her to me, and I stared down at her, the reality sinking in that we had done it!! The three of us who had shared a body for 9 months had come safely apart. They were here.

I lost a lot of blood during the birth, and needed to get into a prone position to deliver the placentas. My partner and midwife took the babies to be weighed and measured as our OB helped me to birth both placentas, which were intact and, interestingly, fused together by their outer membranes. As exhausted as I was I remember noticing how fantastic those organs were, they really are beautiful. The babies came back just a few minutes later and my partner incredulously told me how much they weighed: our son 7 lbs 4 oz and our daughter 8 lbs 6 oz! Our midwife helped me to get both babies latched on, and they started nursing like old pros. With both babies finally in my arms I kept looking back and forth between them, so overwhelmed with love. Tears streamed down my face, completely overcome with gratitude. The names that we had ready fit them perfectly: Tobias (gift from god) and Elena (light bringer). They were born at 9:28 and 9:35 pm on December 4th, 2015.

We spent the night at the clinic, without much sleep. I couldn’t stop looking at my babies and marveling at their beauty and their perfection. I counted their fingers and toes over and over again. We had breakfast together and a checkup with our OB in the morning. All was well and we left the clinic with many hugs and well wishes from the staff, so looking forward to introducing our babes to their big brother, their Nana and their whole new tribe of loved ones.

Soon we will light those birthday candles again and celebrate the first year of life of these two incredible little people. The experience of carrying and birthing these children has irreversibly changed me. I am more resilient that I ever imagined, more powerful than my mind can understand. I am reminded daily to trust my journey, to let go of my expectations of how things should be, and to simply ride the waves of energy that move through us and around us, always. I am so very honored to be their mother.

Caroline’s Birth Story

Caroline’s Birth Story

Jesse got home from work at around 5:15 p.m. I was feeling incredibly tired, so I asked if I could go lie down. He agreed to feed and get the girls to bed. I fell asleep at around 6 o’clock. I woke up at 10:30 feeling much better, and joined him in the living room. At about 10:45, I felt a strong contraction. Not anything terribly abnormal, but strong enough for me to take notice. I decided to text my doula to give them the heads up at 11 p.m. At this point, my contractions were completely bearable and irregular, but I decided it was best to call my mother-in-law, who lives an hour away, to come spend the night—just in case; my previous labors had been quick.

My mother-in-law arrived a little after midnight. Contractions were still bearable and not incredibly regular. By 12:30 a.m., I was certain this was the real deal. At 1 o’clock, we called our doulas to head our way. Between 12:45 and 1:15, my labor went from 0 to 60. As soon as the doulas walked in the door, it was time to go. Amber helped keep me calm for the last few contractions out the door. She knew I was beginning to panic. Michelle jumped in with Jesse and me, and Amber followed in her car.

The car ride got intense quickly. I was terrified we were about to have a car baby. Thank God I had Michelle with me, otherwise I’m not sure I would have stayed as calm. She called L&D to let them know we were on our way and that things were progressing quickly. None of us knew just how quick it was about to be.

We pull in to the ER and there was a wheelchair waiting. I got in, and whoever was pushing it didn’t move! I jumped out and exclaimed that I had to pee. Michelle followed me to the restroom. I got into a stall (with the door open), reached down, and there was a head, about an inch out. Michelle ran out to get a doctor. Jesse and Amber rushed in, followed closely by a gaggle of nurses and a doctor. The doctor looked at me and said, “Hi, ma’am. I am Dr. McMahon. I need you to come sit in this wheelchair.” I said, “No! This baby is coming now!” With one big contraction, Miss Caroline comes out, caught by the ungloved hands of myself and Dr. McMahon as Jesse held my other.

It was a little (okay, a lot) chaotic, but Caroline cried and was a beautiful pink color. The doctor helped me waddle over to the wheelchair, where we discovered she was a girl (Team Green for the pregnancy). The emotions were intense. We cut the cord and Jesse followed the nurse and Caroline up to L&D, followed shortly by myself, Amber and Michelle.

In L&D, the nurses and on-call OB joked with us as I delivered the placenta and got a few stitches. No one got a time of birth so we guesstimated it at 2:08am. Caroline was 6lbs 14oz and 19.25″ long.

The whole experience was, and still is, so surreal. I am forever grateful for my husband, our doula team and the medical staff.

We are now 3 days postpartum and still riding the hormonal high. I’m doing well recovery-wise, and Caroline is perfect. Postpartum, I am in a much better place than my last birth. Her birth is the perfect description of our new life: beautiful chaotic. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photographs by M. Scarpello Photography

Surviving a Tubal Pregnancy: A Story of Hope

Surviving a Tubal Pregnancy: A Story of Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My CBAVBAC – Cesarean Birth after VBAC

My CBAVBAC – Cesarean Birth after VBAC

The birth of my second child was shared on your blog several years ago: Long Labor Ends with Beautiful HBAC. With my home birth I really wanted to inspire other women. I wanted to show them that they are capable of having the birth that they want. This time around, I think it’s important to share that sometimes the birth you want ISN’T the birth you get – and that’s okay too. Here’s my story that talks about when VBAC doesn’t happen…

The birth of my sweet Kelsie.

Every labor is different.

How many times have I heard that sentence? How many times have I said that sentence? I thought that I understood that as well as anybody. My first two children had completely opposite births. My son was born at 36 weeks via emergency C-section and my daughter was born at almost 42 weeks, at home, after 35 hours of drug-free labor. Because of these completely different experiences, I really thought that no matter how Kelsie’s labor and birth went I would be pretty prepared.

I wasn’t.

My water broke at 4:30am on June 15th, 2015. I was 41+1 weeks pregnant. I woke up to a small gush and quickly ran to the restroom. Broken water – Check. Bloody show – Check. YES!!! It’s baby time! My water has never broken at the start of labor before, but I had dozens of dreams that it would this time around, so I really wasn’t too surprised. I went and woke up Eric and let him know that my water broke and we would be having a baby either that day or the next. I knew that it could be several hours before contractions kicked in, so I kissed my hubby, told him to let his work know that he wouldn’t be in that day and advised him that we should both try and get a bit more rest since we would probably need our energy later that day.

About a half hour later I gave up on sleep and went downstairs to make some coffee. Eric joined me and we had a light breakfast, played some cribbage, and talked about what we thought our labor would be like and how excited we were to finally meet our newest daughter. A couple hours later my two kiddos and my parents (who flew out to stay with the big kids while we were in the hospital) got up and I told everyone that I was officially in early labor. We decided to try and get the contractions started by going to Ikea to eat some breakfast and to walk the entire store. We spent over an hour and a half walking around. We left Ikea and decided to take a drive by the hospital to show my parents how to get there later. We also wanted to show them how close the hospital was to the beach, an awesome park where they could play with the kids if they needed to burn some energy, and most importantly, the closest coffee shop.

We went back to the house after and I decided to rest. A little bit later I decided to try the breast pump to see if I could get contractions going. Afterwards, my hubby and I went to a park and walked close to a mile as quickly as I was able to (which isn’t saying much). My water had now been broken for almost 12 hours. I started to get really emotional and frustrated. I decided that I must have been imagining what had happened that morning. I called my doctor, Dr. C, to give him an update and after going over our options in lengthy detail Eric and I decided to go in to the hospital to get confirmation that my water had broken.

We took our time getting our bags together and made sure to give the big kids extra hugs and kisses. I cried off and on the entire way to the hospital. I told Eric that my two best case outcomes would be that either my water had in fact broken and I wasn’t losing my mind, and even though the contractions I was having weren’t super uncomfortable I would somehow still be dilated to 6cm OR that I had completely misread the situation and my water had NOT broken.

Then we could just go home and come back a few days later to have a baby. We got checked into the hospital and were taken to our room. I got changed into the hospital gown and went and sat on the bed; my husband said I looked so scared and anxious that he decided to build my confidence by dancing for me like Ray Lewis (you can see it here…). My goofy husband was able to make me smile but I was definitely not feeling any more relaxed.

Not long after we arrived it was confirmed that my water had broken. A bit later Dr. C came in and checked me. I was dilated to 2 to 3cm on the bottom, but my cervix was still very posterior and almost cone shaped, meaning it was still closed pretty tight at the top – not at all what I had hoped for. Because I am a VBAC, we were told that we would be staying put, but that we would not be on any clock – meaning that even if my water was broken for over 24 hours as long as the baby and I were doing well we would be able to continue labor as long as we needed to. This was not at all our original plan, as we had hoped to labor at home as long as possible and only go in to the hospital once, in my doctor’s words, there was a “baby coming out of my vagina.” However, I knew there was nothing I could do about that now. Dr. C told me I needed to have a good cry about it and then I needed to get out of bed and see what I could do to get this baby coming.

So I did. I sat there and cried, trying to understand why my body didn’t want to start the process that would bring my baby into my arms. I sent Eric out to the car to grab our bags and tried to focus on the few positive things that came with being at the hospital so early. We had plenty of time to set up our music and oil diffuser and for me to spend a few minutes playing birth photographer for my own labor. I changed into the labor gown that I made and called my parents to bring my kids over for a visit. I really just wanted to hug and kiss them and needed a bit of a distraction. My family showed up soon after and I snuggled my babies and my oldest read me a bed time story.

Collage1

After they left, we called in my doula. I paced the room back and forth as far as the monitors I was hooked on to would allow. I paced and paced and paced and began to feel increasingly like a caged animal. I was so frustrated having to be attached to those stupid monitors and not feeling like I was really being given a chance to get things going. My wonderful nurse Lisa came in around this time and reminded me that no one could make me do anything that I didn’t want to do. She had to have some record of monitoring, but that if I refused there was nothing they could do. So I did. I said I needed to use the restroom for a long time and removed the monitors so that I could have at least a half hour of freedom to move about the room. I walked some more and spent some time on the birth ball. A little after 10, I got back on the monitors to try and give my poor nurse some more readings. She had been so kind to me and I didn’t want to put her in a bad position.

A few minutes later my wonderful doula Crystal arrived. She was quick to offer help in any way that I needed. She rubbed my back and shoulders and feet and prayed for me. She whispered words of encouragement and when I wanted to try and sleep she sat beside me and held that stupid monitor in place since my little lady inside insisted on kicking it off.

Collage12

Now I know that during the next several hours I had another visit from Dr. C, I cried and felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster going from completely defeated, to motivated, to crushed, to relaxed. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. We were coming up on 22 hours since my water had broken and I had slept less than ten minutes. Around 2:30 in the morning, the nurses moved me and my crew into a different room with wireless monitors. YES! But they didn’t work. NO! So we continued pacing as far as they would allow me and bouncing on the birth ball. And many times I crawled into bed hoping that rest would bring something on. My doula kept offering things that we could try. Some of them I did, others I looked at her like she was crazy.

Collage11

This pattern continued for the rest of the night and well into the morning. My big fears at this point weren’t only what would happen if my body never went into labor, but also what would happen if it did? I had been awake for going on 30 hours and I could barely put together full sentences. How was I going to push through a labor?

Collage10

I was anxious for Dr. C to come in for a visit. I really wanted a check to see if anything we had tried throughout the night had helped. He arrived a bit after 9:00am. It had been 15 hours since my last check. I tried so hard to remain hopeful, but as soon as the check started I knew.

Collage9

Before he even had the chance to say anything I looked at Eric and Crystal, shook my head no and let the tears fall. There was no change.

Collage8

No. Change. At. All.

Collage7

My heart broke. Off and on throughout the night I had thought, talked, and prayed about what to do if there was still no change the next day. I didn’t feel like I had it in me to keep going. Dr. C sat down and we started to talk about options. As far as he was concerned I had several. First, everyone looked good so I was free to continue laboring as long as I wanted. Second, we could start to talk about other ways to get this baby out. Third, I could take off the monitors, go to sleep and not decide anything at all. I had already shared with Eric and Crystal what I was thinking. I feel so strongly that babies know how to be born and I know for a fact that my body is strong and capable of birthing a baby – so in my heart I felt that if Kelsie wasn’t coming there was a reason for it. I didn’t want to make this decision based solely on exhaustion or fear so Eric and I asked Dr. C a bunch of questions and then agreed that we would all just take a break before we made any decisions.

Collage6

Dr. C left, saying that he was hoping that rest was all I needed and he hoped I woke up in active labor. I no longer felt as hopeful. Crystal left shortly after to get some rest and to allow Eric and I some time together. While Eric and I were alone I was able to be completely vulnerable and vent out everything that I was thinking and feeling. I told him that I was leaning towards a gentle cesarean, but I needed to know that he wouldn’t be disappointed in me. He hugged me close, kissed me lots and told me that no matter what choice I made he knew I was making it for the right reasons. He reminded me that I was strong and that I was a wonderful Mom just trying to take care of our baby. He told me that he was proud of me.

Collage5

He laid down to get a much deserved nap, while I laid in bed, finally free from the dreaded monitors. I tried to sleep, but wasn’t able to. I don’t think I could possibly put into words how much I battled with myself during this time. I tried to rest, but when I wasn’t able to I decided to call my munchkins and make sure that they each knew how much I loved them. Hearing their sweet voices calmed me.

Collage4

A while later Crystal returned and Eric woke up. I didn’t tell either of them what I had decided. Our nurse walked in to check on me, “What do we think?”

Collage3

My eyes filled with tears and I looked at her and answered, “I think it’s time to meet my baby.”

Collage2

Even the nurses knew that Kelsie was in charge.

At this time things started to move pretty fast. Despite the speedy pace though, I felt in control and respected, which is so different then my first cesarean. Everyone was kind and went out of their way to try and keep things as calm as possible. Eric was given his awesome new duds, Kelsie’s blanket and hat were brought into the operating room and I was introduced to the anesthesiologist that would be working with my doctor. I sat on the bed in our hospital room, trying to just remain calm and cling to the small moments of peace that I felt. As I was sitting on the bed, letting Eric put some cozy socks on my feet, I heard my phone vibrate next to me, indicating that a text message had arrived. I had mostly been ignoring all messages since we had kept the news that my water had broken very quiet. But for some reason I decided to read this message before I walked into the operating room. It was from my best friend Lisa:

Collage18

“I love you so much. You are an amazing mom and will see that sweetie soon! Enjoy as her story happens knowing that God wrote it just for her!”

Collage17

Wow. The exact words I needed to hear in the exact moment that I needed to hear them. Eric helped me out of the bed, we walked to the operating room and I kissed him and let him know I’d see him soon.

Collage16

This cesarean was so different than my first. The operating room, while busy, was not at all chaotic. Everyone let me know what was going on and what to expect next. I was treated with respect the entire time and even felt comfortable enough to make jokes. For instance, when the nurse asked someone to let Justin know that he’d be able to come in just a few minutes I calmly replied, “Actually if you don’t mind I’d rather Justin just wait outside, but if you see my husband, Eric, he’s welcome to join us.” Prep went quickly and easily and before I knew it the drape was up and Eric was sitting next to me holding my hand and waiting on our girl. Before we knew it the drape was being lowered and the anesthesiologist was lifting my back up a bit so that Eric and I could watch our daughter being born. I cried and cried. She was here. 32+ hours after my water broke – and born at the exact same minute that I was: 12:31 p.m. She was perfect and pink and loud and tiny and COVERED in meconium. I mean head to toe covered in poop. And I had only ever seen anything that beautiful two other times in my life. She was quickly looked over while Dr. C did his best to get her as much cord blood as possible, while still keeping me safe. And less than two minutes later she was in our arms. As requested she hadn’t been bathed or weighed or measured. None of that mattered.

Collage15

One of the nurses came over and helped pull my pajamas down and slide Kelsie in so that we could lay skin to skin while the surgery was completed. Eric also held her during this time and we all laughed at how much she was rooting. The anesthesiologist mentioned that he had never seen a baby with such an immediate and enthusiastic root instinct. While she was laying on me and trying so hard to find what she was looking for I said, “I’m so sorry baby. You have to wait just a few more minutes.” Her response was the most perfect, most dramatic pouty lip that you can imagine. She had Eric and I and several others in the room laughing. Before I knew it everything was done. Eric held Kelsie while I was moved from the operating table to a bed. Kelsie was again tucked in with me skin to skin and we were rolled back to our room together.

Collage14

Eric, Kelsie and I were left mostly alone for more than an hour after she was born. Everything else that needed to be done was done with her in my arms. She wasn’t measured or weighed until we requested and when I did decide to have them rinse some of the poop out of her hair, they were quick to honor my request that they only use water.

Collage13

We stayed in the hospital for two days and were blessed to be taken care of by so many wonderful nurses and one exceptional CNA. I have had a few moments where I have felt sad about the way everything went down – like when I had to sign my consent to have cesarean, because of a “failed trial of labor” (I don’t think that’s the right reason – I never went into labor and I certainly didn’t fail). But the fact is I made the best choice that I could make with the information that I had at that time. I was supported and respected in all of my choices and I felt like I was in control. I never felt bullied or pushed into anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I wanted Kelsie’s birth to be joyful. I prayed for that for the entire 10+ months that I carried her. And when I look back at her birth, I will remember laughing at her silly faces right after birth and joking with my doctor about a dream I had where I had a C-section, but in the dream he had bleached blonde backstreet boy hair and him asking someone to bring him a wig. I will remember the jokes and fun that I had with my husband and doula in the middle of the night when we were all so exhausted that we were borderline giddy.

kelsie28

I will own the choices that I made during this labor and I choose not to regret any of them.

This is Kelsie’s story and I will tell it to her proudly and remember it with joy.

kelsie53

Welcome to the world, Kelsie.
You are loved.
You are wanted.
You are precious.

kelsie58

*** I wrote Kelsie’s birth story the week that she was born. That was over 6 months ago. One thing that I wasn’t prepared for after her birth was how hard it would be to process everything. How much I would doubt my choices. How often I would ask myself, “What if…” Not having a VBAC when you prepare for one and want one so badly is HARD. With my first child’s birth his emergency C-section was out of my hands. It was easy to be frustrated with everyone else, because I had zero control in that situation. But this time around the decision to have a cesarean was mine alone. Processing Kelsie’s birth has been hard. For over four months I obsessed over everything that had happened. What could I have done differently? How much better would it have been if I had just planned a home birth? What if I had just given myself more time? Did I give up too easily?

kelsie59

The self-doubt that comes in can suffocate you and it felt like nobody really understood WHY I was upset. My baby was healthy after all and my recovery had been as easy as it could have been. Yet still, I felt like I had let myself and my daughter down. For months (and sometimes even now) I couldn’t read birth stories without feeling sad, disappointed, and even jealous of these other women achieving their drug-free vaginal births and VBACs. My sweet doula sat me down and told me, “You’re only thinking of this one way. But what about these ‘what ifs?’ What if you HADN’T had a cesarean? What if you HADN’T followed your instinct? You birthed a beautiful baby. Be kind to yourself.”

kelsie60

And you know what? She was right. The decisions made that day were mine alone. I chose the decision I could live with and now, over half a year later, I truly can accept that. Her birth story is unique to her. I did the best I could do and I am so grateful that the choices I made led to a beautiful, healthy, joyful baby girl. I think that I will probably always have moments when I wonder “what if,” but I no longer feel like I failed. Kelsie’s birth story is her own. I hope that other women reading this, possibly in the same situation, will know that they aren’t alone. It’s hard when VBAC doesn’t happen. Those feelings of disappointment, sadness, and anger are real. But in the words of my favorite doula, “You birthed a beautiful baby, be kind to yourself.” ***

kelsie61

Emily’s Birth Story

Emily’s Birth Story

Monday, the 15th of December, 2014 – my husband and I anxiously waited in the waiting room of the hospital for our midwife appointment. At this point, I was eight days late and we were a little anxious to meet our baby we’d waited nine long months for, anxious about the impending labor and delivery that we both had no idea about what to expect, and the idea of the afterwards, we’d have a baby to take home. What did that mean for us? How will we know what to do with her if she cries or needs something? How will we know?

The midwife called us in and asked me to make myself comfortable on the bed and my husband sat on the chair next to me. The midwife discussed what they were going to do. A stretch and sweep, and check how much I was dilated. They did this and said that I was 1cm dilated. At eight days late, with no sign of labor coming any time soon, the midwives decided with a conversation with the delivery doctor that if it didn’t happen in two days, by Wednesday the 17th of December 2014, I was to be induced and then that was it. We could go home and wait until our baby came naturally or wait until Wednesday to arrive. We were excited. We had a clear date of when we would meet her. The whole pregnancy was a question of when the baby will come, what day to expect her, guessing, researching old wives tales on the date she’ll arrive, never really knowing, but now we did. We knew then that we would meet her in just a few short days and we were excited and terrified! We immediately called my husband’s parents and told them the news. The induction was a scary thing for me, because I’d been explained that an induction can increase the risk of needing to have a cesarean and being major abdominal surgery, needing a spinal block, and the recovery afterwards with a new baby. I was scared. We didn’t tell anyone else of when she was to arrive. We wanted to keep that all to our self and have the next few days together.

Tuesday the 15th of December, we went out for lunch. We ate at a café down the road from our house and we laughed. We talked about our baby and who she might look like. We discussed her hair colour and whose eyes she’d have. We talked about names we liked and laughed about what would happen if she were a boy, having spent the last five months being told it was a girl! We watched a movie at home and just spent time together. This was, for a while, to be the last moments it was just us two. Tuesday night came and she still hadn’t arrived. The midwives explained to us on Monday that if I hadn’t gone into labour by 6am on Wednesday morning to call them and let them know we were coming to the hospital and the process of induction would begin.

So we went to bed. I don’t think either of us got a lot of sleep that night, but before we knew it the alarm had sounded. It was 5.15am and we had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital. We lay in bed awhile and said good morning to each other. We checked our phones for any calls and cuddled awhile. My husband said, “C’mon it’s time to get up, have a shower, and we’ll call the hospital.” I sat up in bed and as I did I heard and felt a “pop” sound come from inside me. I felt a slight trickle of water and said to Shaun what had happened. I stood up out of bed and felt some more water come from me. My waters had broken. Shaun said, because it was only a small amount to call the hospital and check what we should do. I called the midwives on the labour ward and explained what had happened.

I remember so clearly the midwife on the other end of the phone excitedly tell me, “Yes honey, your waters have broken, you’re gonna have a baby today.” I cried! She told me to still come in as I was now ten days overdue and I’d need to be monitored anyway. I couldn’t believe it. We had booked an induction and we were mentally ready for that to happen and then my labour had started naturally! We showered and changed and we were on our way. We dropped the dog off to our parent’s house along the way. They hugged and kissed us and wished us luck and we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl. We got to the hospital carpark at about 7am. Shaun sent a text to only his close friends telling them, “It’s go time.” They all knew exactly what that meant and they sent texts back wishing us luck and love; we walked inside.

The midwives were beautiful. They greeted us warmly and showed us to our room and we sat on the bed waiting for someone to come back in and see us. The midwives came in explained they would break my waters. They knew I had lost a little water earlier, but needed to be sure, and explained and carried out the process of the induction. They explained and carried out the beginning of the induction. They inserted an IV into my right arm. The internal examination during the braking the waters process showed I was still 1cm dilated. This was a concern, but we were optimistic that the dilation would increase with the help of the induction. They placed heart monitors on my tummy to be able to watch our baby’s heart rate as the induction process was going on. They sent the oxytocin into my blood stream and the labour was officially started. Around 9.30am I really started to feel the pain. Induction is rightly known as “0-60,” as the labour pains started immediately with barely any lead up! After a few hours of searing pain, then turning it down, semi awful pain, then turning it up it was 6pm. I sucked on the gas, I sat on a gym ball, I laid over the back of the bed, I probably stood on my head, but I just couldn’t find a position comfortable enough that I could get through the pain easily and quickly.

Shaun was amazing. He held my hand through every contraction, some minutes apart. He rubbed my back and whispered he loved me in my ear. He reminded me through every moment that he was the most amazing man I’d ever met and I was so glad we were doing this together. 6pm. The midwives did another internal examination to check how dilated I was. I was 2cm. This was obviously taking a long time. An epidural was offered to me. This was the one thing I didn’t want. The midwives explained to me that as this was taking too long. If our labour happened to speed up, by the time we got to it I would be too tired to push her out vaginally, possibly sending me into an emergency caesarean and they recommended I have the epidural so we could get some rest, hopefully relaxing my cervix and bringing on labour faster. 11.45pm and we had both fallen asleep waking to the midwives introducing us to the delivery doctor, Dr. Lee. They asked me if they could do an internal examination again to see how well the epidural had worked and to give us an idea of when she might arrive.

I was 3cm dilated. The doctor and midwives quickly decided that this wasn’t happening naturally. The baby had showed increased signs of distress, her heartrate wasn’t consistent and what they could feel from that last internal was her head wasn’t close enough to my cervix and too big for my pelvic opening and I needed to have a caesarean, immediately. By 12AM we were on our way to surgery. Shaun was given a blue gown and pants and asked to quickly change. I was scared. After the epidural I could still slightly feel the contractions in my left side and knowing that I was having this surgery with just a little “top up” I was scared that I was going to feel the pain or have to be put to sleep. We waited in the surgery waiting room, and I cried. I cried at Shaun saying how scared I was and he was so brave. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was scared because I knew if the spinal block didn’t fully take I would have to be put under local anesthetic and put to sleep were I wouldn’t be there to see your little girl come into the world. I was scared because I didn’t think I’d wake up.

After about 15 minutes I was brought into the delivery room. I went in alone so they could get me ready while Shaun waited outside. I was crying. They moved me to the surgical bed and the doctors and nurses were all busy around me getting everything ready. Shaun was let into the room and he was seated to my right, next to my head. A blue sheet was put in front of us so we didn’t see the surgery. The anesthetist topped up my spinal block and the doctor rubbed ice cubes on my legs asking me to tell him if I could feel it. I could. They waited a few more minutes and it had fully worked and they could begin the surgery. Dr. Lee talked us through the whole procedure. I was panicked and asking them to stop and they kept talking me through. “Your baby will scream and cry out for you any minute.” Shaun was doing his best to keep me calm, as was the anesthetist sitting to my left. They told me where they had cut and what they were dong next and told me she’d be here any second, and then just like that, she came earth side.emily3

Dr. Lee called out, “Baby girl born at 1.06am” The midwives called to Shaun and asked him to come over and see her and all I heard was: “She’s not breathing on her own, but that’s normal” I panicked. I was calling out to my baby and asking Shaun what was happening. The anesthetist explained that some babies born by caesarean need help to start breathing on their own and she was one of them. I didn’t hear at the time, but she started to cry a few minutes later in the surgery room. Shaun came over to me quickly and said, “She’s here; she’s okay, but we’re taking her to the neonatal ward to be sure.” I told him, “Don’t leave her side.” He assured me he wouldn’t and they both were gone.emily2

Shaun and the nurses rushed our daughter up to the neonatal ward, but on the way decided that she was okay and all came back down to the recovery to wait for me. They asked Shaun to have a seat and relax; they wrapped her up and gave her to him. He held her for the very first time. He fell in love! I was alone in the surgery room. It took approximately an hour to be stitched up and to come out of surgery. Up until this point I had not seen my daughter or her dad. I didn’t know if they were okay and I was scared. They wheeled me out of the surgery into recovery and I saw my husband sitting there. He was holding a white bundle of blankets and I asked him where our baby was and what he was holding. He said, “She’s here, come and meet our daughter.” Shaun asked me if I liked the name Emily and I said of course. Up until that point we had no idea what her name would be. We had mentioned the name Emily a few times, along with others, but never really stuck to any one name. We met her and we knew that she was an Emily.emily5

She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. He handed her to me and she laid on my chest. She cuddled into me, our skin touching. She cooed at me and cried a little and I fell in love with her. She was a part of us. She was a piece of our heart outside of our body and she was ours. 42 weeks and 20 hours later I got to hold her in my arms. She was our beautiful daughter. The longest hour of my life not knowing if she was okay, 19 hours of a really painful and scary labour, nine long months of waiting and we finally got to meet her. I knew I loved her when I found out we were pregnant, but I could never have fathomed this feeling. I was devoted to her, proud of her, and I was completely and utterly in love with her, and I had only just met her. She was here, she was finally with us and we would never be happier than we were in that moment.emily4

Together we became parents in what I can only describe as the very best moment of my life. It was a magical and intimate moment we shared together. She chose us to be her mum and dad and for that we are forever grateful.emily1

HBA3C with Inverted ‘T’ Scar

HBA3C with Inverted ‘T’ Scar

{Each woman, baby, and birth are different. Educate yourself, hire the right support, and do what is best for you and your baby. We share experiences and wisdom that is passed on from mother to mother. Please contact your care provider for questions or concerns regarding your pregnancy and birth.}

“The knowledge of how to give birth without outside interventions lies deep within each woman. Successful childbirth depends on the acceptance of the process.” ~Suzanne Arms

Quick history on my other kiddos births:

*McKenna born via cesarean section in 2008 due to “failure to progress”, and decelerations in fetal heart tones which we were told were completely normal after the delivery.

*Liam born via repeat cesarean section in 2011 after 67 hours of labor due to “failure to progress” and mentioned I was probably not able to have a vaginal birth.

*Wesley via drug free vba2c in 2013, 10lbs 2oz!

*Gracelyn via repeat cesarean section in 2014. At 33 weeks my water ruptured, and it was discovered that I had placental abruption. I was still determined to deliver vaginally, but she was breech. When I went back into labor, there was meconium, her heart rate was all over the place, and I decided the cesarean was the best choice. They had to do a t-incision to help deliver her head.

After we had Gracelyn my desire for more children was hugely lessened. I was afraid of having another cesarean and was pretty traumatized from her birth in general. For the first time in our seven years I was trying NOT to get pregnant. My husband, Tony, brought up how much he didn’t like seeing me this way. He didn’t want me to stress about having another baby and encouraged me that if we did get pregnant again, we didn’t HAVE to schedule a cesarean. It made me feel more confident and I put my trust back to God with our future children…if there were any more to come. Around this same time, Tony said he was praying for each of our children by name and felt like God said, “What about your unborn son, Jackson?” About a week later to our surprise, we were pregnant! I spent a few weeks reading everything I could find about VBA3C, specifically with a special scar. Unfortunately there is not much, but I felt confident trying with what I did find. Fast forward through a normal pregnancy…

I wanted an autumn baby so badly and didn’t think it would be an issue whatsoever, since typically my babies come late. I didn’t think I would literally have a baby born on the first day of fall. On September 23rd, at 1:20am, a contraction woke me up. I went to the bathroom experiencing fun early labor stuff and lost my plug with some show…I was excited, but assumed I had at least a day or two until baby. I continued contracting inconsistently until around 8am when things almost completely stopped. I had prayed for this moment, because I was exhausted and really wanted to nap. I stayed in bed the majority of the day and had a contraction every once in a while and assumed baby would be coming for sure within the next few days.

Around 5:30/6pm the kids got insane and Tony was pretty exhausted, because he was still recovering from eye surgery. I made dinner, and did dishes and started having contractions again, but they were different. I had so many things left I wanted to do and kept trying, but it was getting pretty difficult. I finally took a bath, thinking it could help with back labor, and it was AWFUL! I lasted about two contractions and had to get out. I resorted to our room around 7pm and tried to sit on the ball and I extra hated that and had to stand up during the contractions.

I took a shower to use the heat on my back, spent way too long looking for something to wear, and then I tried to lean against the wall in bed with a tower of pillows and that wasn’t cutting it either. My midwife friend texted me at 7:50pm and asked if she could stop by, my response: “Please.” A doula friend said she would head over also. At 8pm I sat on the toilet and around 8:15 my birthy friends arrived and my mother-in-law came a few minutes later to help with the kiddos. I started to feel pushy at this time, but did not think it was time and was getting really mad that my body was pushing already. I was recognizing the sounds and my thoughts as transition, but could not convince myself that it was near time. I thought I had hours to go and kept saying, “I just need a nap,” or “I just want a break.” I decided to check my cervix, because I still believed it couldn’t possibly be time and felt something really strange!

At first I was completely panicked thinking it was the baby’s cord or something terribly wrong, and then I realized it was the baby’s head beginning to crown already! I said something out loud about the baby’s head being right there, I think mainly to reassure myself. I had a few more intense contractions, trying to breathe baby down, but found myself needing to push. Suddenly Tony and my friends were helping me off the toilet, because baby’s head was halfway out and they tried to help me deliver standing.hba3c3

I was not comfortable at all, because I couldn’t relax my weight on them and ended up inches from my toilet squatting. With the next contraction I announced that my water had broken and baby’s head was out, which I only knew, because I reached down and could feel eyes and a nose. I really liked vocalizing everything for some reason! I waited for what felt like forever for baby’s body to be delivered. I didn’t want to rush anything, but the “ring of fire” was intense and I really couldn’t wait till it was over! I finally had that last contraction and the baby was here.hba3c2

It took a minute for me to hold him, because his cord was around his neck three times…he had a crazy long cord! Tony said, “It’s a boy,” and I couldn’t believe I was a mama to three boys! I repositioned and was able to hold him and hear that first amazing cry. Only a few minutes later my placenta delivered, which was extremely surprising…I hadn’t even fully grasped the fact that my baby was in my arms and without trouble at all. My body did exactly what it needed to finish the birthing process. Kenna was the only child awake, so her and my mother-in-law came into see him. Kenna cut his cord and was so excited to have another brother, even though she had hoped for a sister. I love how loving she is, with no disappointment at all, just blessed to have another sibling, and I was so blessed to have her have a part in his delivery.hba3c1

After all that, I got into a nice herbal bath and nursed him for the first time. Kenna helped get me some food and delivered it to me in the bath…I felt like a queen! I got dressed, and comfy in my bed where I ate fresh berries, peanut butter toast (at my request), and dark chocolate. We all guessed how much we thought he would weigh as we relaxed in my room: 8 pounds and 21 inches of perfection.

“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” -Ina May Gaskin

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