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Roaring for Aurora: A Hospital Birth Story

Roaring for Aurora: A Hospital Birth Story

My entire pregnancy had been spent preparing my body and mind to bring a wonderful little girl into the world. Including the fact that as a first time mom, she would probably arrive later than her expected due date of April 10th! So in order to prepare for her arrival sometime in April I left my job on the last day of March, giving me at least a full week till my due date to finish cleaning, shopping and sleeping before I had my daughter… Or so I thought.

In the early hours of April 4 I rolled over and, much to my surprise, felt a gush of liquid. My first thought was that I had peed myself; it hadn’t happened before but at 39 weeks pregnant anything can happen, right? I got up, changed my pajamas and crawled back into bed. I then proceeded to roll over again and there was more liquid. This time I was pretty sure my water had broken but nothing else was signaling the start of labor, so I changed again and curled up on the couch and started googling “how you know your water has broken” because I was convinced that she was going to be late.

My husband Kevin got up and started getting ready for work and I crawled back in bed to try and rest some. But rest was not happening and when Kevin came back in I said, “Hey you can turn on the light, I’m awake. Also, I think my water broke…” I was still unconvinced.

“Do I need to stay home from work then or what?” he asked.

“No, I’ll take you. And if anything changes I’ll let you know.” So, I got up and got dressed, texted our doula Amy and let her know what was happening and drove my husband to work.

On the way home I decided to stop at a lake and take a walk; it was a nice day and out and I took about a lap and a half before I decided that I was having a few contractions. I texted my husband and let him know I was going to come get him after I went home and showered. I put on my labor clothes, picked Kevin up from work and came back home to pack up the last few things I needed for labor.

I was already scheduled to have an appointment with my OB and my mom had been going with me due to some previous high stress appointments and she pulled in shortly after we arrived home. “Why is Kevin home?” she asked.

“Well… I think my water broke.”

“Okay… so what’s the plan?”

We decided to hang out at the house, make sure we had everything we needed and I bounced on the birth ball for awhile, before finally making the decision just to head to the labor and delivery triage around 10am. We got checked in to triage and they took my vitals, as well as testing for amniotic fluid. My water had broken, but I was only 1cm dilated and they of course immediately offered to start Pitocin, but I was determined to do this without it, so as soon as we got to an L&D room my husband and I started walking laps.

The doctor came in and introduced himself and assured me that I could labor wherever I wanted including in the tub as long as I didn’t deliver there. He was fine with my decision to put off Pitocin but did remind me that we could only do that for about 24 hours, as long as everything was still looking good. Over the course of the day my parents, Kevin’s parents, and a whole slew of family and friends came and visited me. My doula arrived later on in the afternoon since I wasn’t quite in active labor and I was doing fine without her.

The nurse came and checked to see if I had progressed any around 4pm or so and I was still only at a cm and they again offered Pitocin. My doula knew I was trying to avoid it and we opted to try nipple stimulation instead. We got hooked up to the fetal monitor and started that for about an hour and it helped get some contractions going but not anything sustainable. We continued to walk and late in the night I took a shower, listened to some music and read some. Around 1am they checked again and still no progress. I tried to get some sleep because I knew I would need it. At some point Amy, our doula, went got me some oatmeal and gatorade; she was a great help in making sure I was hydrated and fed.

In the early hours of April 5 the doctor came in and talked Pitocin since it had been over the 24 hours. While I had been fighting it all along I was ready to see my baby earthside and gave them the go ahead to start the IV. Sometime between 6 and 7am they started the Pitocin and, because of the risks it poses, I was able to labor only as far as the fetal and contraction monitors let me go. I had hoped to labor in the tub but they couldn’t find a cord for the monitor so that was no longer an option. As soon as they started the Pitocin my contractions really started picking up. I managed to eat some breakfast (which was all liquids) but by 9am I couldn’t talk through my contractions anymore. My mom left around this time telling me not to have this baby until she got back. I lost track of time soon after that. Kevin and Amy were a huge help during all of this. I felt immense pressure in my hips and Amy provided counter pressure while I was sitting on the bed. I stood and swayed with my husband for most of labor, but at some point ended up back on the bed, on my hands and knees and I felt immediately nauseous; thankfully Amy came fully prepared and had lemon oil in her bag for just such an occasion, it helped so much. I also remember thinking as Amy said aloud, “Yay! That’s a good thing!” We all knew I was align through transition. I changed position again with my legs dangling over the sides. With every contraction I would curl my toes as Amy told me to relax them. She placed heating under my hips to help ease the pressure I was feeling there.

When my mom got back to the hospital around 11am she came in and started stroking my hair and using a cool rag on my neck. Kevin was holding my hand and keeping the fetal monitor in place, because with every contraction she would move and we would lose her heartbeat. He kept it in place so that the nurses could track her heartbeat. During this entire process the nurses came in and out only to bump up the Pitocin drip. They hadn’t checked me since 1am, for which I am thankful, but they didn’t realize how quickly I was progressing, because around 11:45am my body began to push. Amy suggested to my mom that she call for the nurse and joked that we may have a baby before the afternoon! The nurse came in quickly and asked me to lie back so she could check my progress. Much to her surprise she could see my baby and asked me to not push, which is the hardest thing to do when your body is telling you something else! I did my best while she frantically paged the doctor. She actually paged him twice because she was afraid he wasn’t going to make it. He ran in followed closely by the baby nurse who began getting the baby warmer ready. Tearing the bottom off the labor bed and breaking one of his gloves in the process he gave me the go ahead to push all I wanted! My husband on one side and my mom on the other both helped me to relax and Amy reminded me to use the low register groaning to my favor; she called it ‘roaring for Aurora’. I pushed two or three times and then there she was!

At 11:56am. All of 6lbs 10oz and a head full of hair. The first words out of my mouth as they handed her to me were, “Is this real life?” I was in awe of the tiny little girl curled up on my chest. She was perfect in every way.

Story and photographs submitted by Ashley B.

Maternal Assisted Cesarean, Oxytocin, & 12 Year Old Catches Her Sibling

Maternal Assisted Cesarean, Oxytocin, & 12 Year Old Catches Her Sibling

In case you missed our Birth Without Fear Instagram this past week…

Happy Sunday Friends! ✨Caption this. ✨ 📷:@embracingeveryday #birthwithoutfear #vbacwithoutfear

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Prepared by Bradley Method: 3 Birth Stories in 1!

Prepared by Bradley Method: 3 Birth Stories in 1!

I have three beautiful children. All born very close together within the 5 years that my husband and I have been married. I jokingly call myself “Fertile Myrtle”. My husband is more of a natural/holistic person than I am and convinced me to go the natural way for our first pregnancy. We read a Bradley Method book that prepared us extremely well for all of our pregnancies. We chose a OB/GYN that was highly recommended by friends. She agreed with our birth plan and was very nice at every office visit. What we didn’t know at the time, was that she was in the middle of at least one lawsuit where she had lost a mother.

Two months before the delivery, she asked us to give birth at the birth center in town since she didn’t have rights at the hospital anymore. We didn’t know any better what that meant at the time. We lived 14 hours away from family and chose to keep that information a secret and let our parents know we were still giving birth at the hospital. We felt like it was too late to change plans anyway. We were kind of excited to get the “best of both worlds.” Labor was long and hard but pretty much by the book. No surprises and 12 hours long. I was able to give birth to a beautiful 9lb baby girl. We named her Luciana.

It wasn’t until after the birth that my doula told us all of the awful things the doctor did to me during labor that could’ve ended badly. The doctor broke my water without my consent, physically dilated me the last two centimeters, pulled on the placenta and fished it out herself, pulling out globs at a time. I had bad tearing but never found out what degree it was. It took me two weeks to recover. Let’s just say she’s not a practicing doctor anymore.

Towards the end of my second pregnancy, we were back in our home state and living at my parents’ house. We opted for a Certified Nurse Midwife and homebirth, much to the disappointment to my mother, a Labor & Delivery nurse. I absolutely loved our midwife. She had 30+ years of experience and gave me so much confidence. This time around, labor was 16 hours long. I think it was because I laid down in bed for most of it; afraid of going too fast and getting torn again. Our 9lb son, Matthew, came into the world at my mother’s home and it was absolutely beautiful. No tearing and no complications.

We planned another home birth for our third child but things didn’t go according to plan. My water broke on its own on a Friday morning. My husband and midwife were confident that I would go into labor soon…but Friday turned into Saturday and I was beginning to freak out. My husband didn’t want to go to the hospital and was convinced that I would eventually go into labor. But I knew with each passing hour we were putting myself and the baby at risk for infection. I had to beg him to bring me to the hospital Sunday afternoon. He was convinced that the hospital would give me an epidural or whisk me to a C-section without our consent. I, however, was so happy to be there and so happy when they hooked up that pitocin. I was so tired of not being in labor. I just wanted my baby!

My husband wasn’t kind to the nurses and I had to convince them to listen to me and not my husband, who very obviously didn’t want to be there or trusted anyone. They kept saying “I’m just trying to make everyone happy.” But I informed them that they weren’t gonna make him happy. Just focus on me. Once the contractions got intense he was able to come back to reality and be the birthing coach that I needed. I was so happy to have him there. I could not get through my labors without him. He is the best coach. Better than my doula was for our first labor! He always ends up being more exhausted than me at the end of the birth. Labor only lasted 5 hours and I pushed for 5 minutes and had no tearing. I loved that the labor was so fast even though it was a little more painful than my first two. Our second boy, Augustine, was so beautiful at 8lbs.

However, 9 days after he was born he ran a fever and his breathing was sounding funny. We brought him to the ER and he was in septic shock. He was intubated, put under sedation, and immediately started on antibiotics. He had contracted E-coli. They said we’ll never know how he got it, but the nurses said it was probably from my waters being ruptured for so long. We stayed in the hospital for over 3 weeks. He recovered like a champ. He is now 18 months old and is quite possibly the happiest baby on the planet. He has been so easy and such a delight to see grow up.

We are now pregnant with our fourth baby! I’m due in late July and can’t wait to write up that birth story next.

Story and photographs submitted by Kristin J. 

Focusing Through the Ring of Fire: An Unmedicated, Natural Birth

Focusing Through the Ring of Fire: An Unmedicated, Natural Birth

My husband Chris and I made the decision on having a natural unmedicated birth after watching the documentary “Business of Being Born”. Being the planner that I am, we prepared for our estimated due date, September 21st, for months.  Chris and I were both very determined! Unquestionably, I knew I could do it, despite the doubting comments I’d been receiving from a few close friends and family. I was excited and anxious for the day to finally come, so that I could not only prove them wrong, but to also meet our munchkin and finally find out the gender.

EARLY LABOR?

On September 11th, I was FaceTiming my family at 12 PM JST (we live in Japan), happily bouncing away on my exercise ball. As I was talking to my mom, I felt my belly tighten up. In fact, it was a feeling I had felt many times before, however, that time was different. Unusually, it lasted for about a minute with very mild cramping, so I knew it was different than a Braxton Hicks. However, I chose to ignore it and went about my day, in fear of getting my hopes up.

Later that night, I went to the bathroom before heading to bed. As usual, I checked the toilet paper after I wiped in the hopes I would see something out of the ordinary. I was so anxious for any sign that would indicate our baby was coming soon. Granted, I did see something I didn’t see at all my entire pregnancy: My mucus plug! Yet, I was still skeptical, since there was no blood. With the thought of early labor being too good to be true, I decided to ignore that sign as well.

After a few hours later, I woke up at 2 AM to use the bathroom, and noticed more of my mucus plug, except this time there was a tinge of pink blood! At that point, I began to feel a little hopeful. Of course, it was hard to fall back to sleep, so I searched for forums of other moms who’d experienced the same thing; Desperately wanting to read they ended up going into labor. Guess what? Most of those mothers went into labor within the next 24 hours after losing their mucus plug and experiencing the “bloody show!”

By 5 AM, I began feeling more tightening of my abdomen, in addition to period like cramps that would come and go. Curiously, I decided to start timing them, but unfortunately noticed they weren’t consistent. For this reason, I decided not to tell Chris anything after he woke up for work at 6 AM; trying to avoid him becoming disappointed if I truly wasn’t going into labor. Obviously, I still wasn’t fully convinced.

CONVINCED! EARLY LABOR!

Between 6 AM and noon, I attempted taking a nap, but kept waking up from stronger “cramps”. Since taking a nap seemed impossible, I decided to call my mother to tell her everything that was leading me to think I was in early labor. With a tad bit of worriment in her voice, she assured me I was, and told me I would have our baby very soon. Thanks to my mom, I finally came to accept that I was indeed in early labor. Especially since my contractions were happening every 5 mins!

After hanging up with my mother, I called Chris right away and told him he needed to come home ASAP because we were going to have our baby very soon. Thankfully, he left work immediately. In the meantime, I  paced back and forth in my house and bounced on an exercise ball so my contractions wouldn’t go away. As soon as he got home, I called the hospital, and they instructed me to start heading there when my contractions were 3 mins apart and I was incapable of walking or talking through them. Immediately after hanging up, I timed them and realized they were 2-3 minutes apart! Although my contractions were still bearable, they were very painful.

HOSPITAL TIME

Around 2 PM, we started heading towards the hospital, but stopped at Subway first, since I was told they wouldn’t let me eat anything aside from ice chips after being admitted. Oh my goodness, was it hard to eat my sub due to having to take small bites in between each contraction. First time it had ever taken me that long to eat in my entire life!

As soon as I got to the Mother Infant Care Center, a nurse took me to triage for monitoring and to check if I was dilated. The nurse confirmed I was in fact having very strong contractions, very close together, but I was ONLY 3cm dilated! It turns out because we live about 30 mins away from the hospital they asked me NOT to go home. Instead, they advised me to walk around for two hours and go back to be checked for progression.

Chris asked me if we could go to the barbershop so he could get a haircut. Honestly, I thought I could handle it, so we did. Geez, what a bad idea! I got lots of worried looks while I paced back and forth in front of the barber, as I deeply hummed through each contraction. Can you believe how difficult it was to focus on my breathing knowing I was being stared at? For this reason, my contractions were becoming more and more painful. As soon as Chris walked out of the barber, I urged for us to go back to the hospital because at that point I could not handle walking or talking. Clinging onto Chris’s neck with my arms and swaying my hips side to side during each contraction and then quickly walking when it stopped was the only way we made it back to the car.

Thankfully, we made it back to the hospital and walked for the remaining time in the hallways. If I’m not mistaken, the pain got much worse during those two hours, which led me to think I had to be at least 6cm dilated. At around 6 pm, we walked back, the nurse hooked me back onto the monitors and shortly after, she checked to see if I was making any progress. The nurse told me, yes, my contractions were stronger, but I only progressed to 3 1/2cm. Discouraged is the best word to explain how I felt at that moment. In that moment, I desperately wanted to go home so I could sit in my tub full of hot water to help me through the pain. Unfortunately, they advised me to walk around for another TWO hours so the nurse could check me again for progression.

THE WAITING GAME- ACTIVE LABOR

For the most part, those two hours were a complete blur to me. Honestly, the pain was something I swore I never wanted to experience again. All I could do for the entire two hours was breath and pace down the hospital corridor with Chris by my side, encouraging me to breathe through each contraction. So I continued to remind myself during each contraction that I’d shortly be getting a break and each contraction was just a step closer to meeting our baby.

Two hours later, we walked into Mother Infant Care Center, this time only to be checked for dilation. The nurse looked at me and told me “I’m sorry, but you are only at a 4…” A huge sense of doubt came over me that I didn’t even care what else she had to say. Sadly, we ended up being sent home.

LABORING AT HOME

In a nutshell, I labored all night at home; alternating between- laying in the bathtub filled with hot water, to bouncing, hugging and rolling on the medicine ball, and listened to my hypnobirthing DVD. The DVD helped me focus through the pain I was feeling and reminded me of everything we learned and practiced in our Hypnobirthing class. I’m not going to lie, I was so afraid I would have our baby in the house. So I called the hospital at 3 AM to see if I should go in, but the nurse on the phone instructed me to labor as long as I could at home and to come in the morning. I stayed up all night doing anything possible to help me stay focused and calm. As soon as the clock hit 7 AM, I woke Chris up and we got ready and headed to the hospital.

ADMITTED

When we arrived at the hospital the nurse took me straight to triage, checked me… AND THANK GOD I WAS AT A 6! They asked me if I wanted an epidural and I told them I wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, I was in so much pain I didn’t know how much longer I could take. Out of standard procedure, the anesthesiologist came into triage and discussed the risks of getting an epidural with us. Still unsure, I asked her to give me more time to think about it, so she told me to ask for it whenever I was ready. Chris and I looked at each other, and he lovingly reminded me why we wanted to go natural and helped me remember the pain would go away as soon as I had our baby. Thanks to him, I agreed and decided to stick it out longer.

Soon after, I was admitted into my room at around 8 AM. Chris provided them with our birth plan and went through it with our Midwife and the staff. The heparin lock was placed in case of emergency, and I was intermittently monitored throughout my entire labor, which allowed me as much mobility as I needed. They dimmed the lights and spoke softly just as I’d asked. Between the times of 8 AM to 6 PM, I labored on and off the bed, on the exercise ball they provided, and in and out the shower. Believe it or not, I managed to stay very calm during each contraction by humming through them and switching positions as often as I could.

TRANSITION PHASE

It wasn’t until 6 PM that I started to doubt myself again, lost focus of each contraction and started to wonder how much longer it was going to take. Fear swept through me and I felt like it was never going to end. While I labored in the shower, I turned to Chris with a face of defeat and told him I wanted the epidural. I’ll never forget how he stared right back at me with so much love, and let me know I was the strongest women he has ever met and there was no doubt in his mind I could do it. That’s all I needed in that very moment, he believed in me, so I had to keep pushing!

Deep down I needed some reassurance I was progressing, so I asked him to call the nurse so she could check and confirm I was in the transitioning phase of labor. Sure enough, I was 7cm dilated. In that moment I remember hearing the pain wouldn’t get any more painful after 7 cm and I would have our baby very soon. Shortly after, the nurse spoke to the midwife and they came into the conclusion I wasn’t progressing fast enough. They gave me two options: Have them break my waters or give me one more hour. With the intention of letting my body naturally go through the process of labor, I asked them to please give me one more hour. Thankfully, the midwife granted my wish.

SURRENDING TO THE CONTRACTIONS

Honestly, I don’t remember ANY pain within that hour, and I was no longer moaning, humming or grunting between the contractions. As a matter of fact, I surrendered myself to each surge (contraction) and finally let my body do what it needed to do instead of fighting it. There I sat Indian style on the hospital bed peacefully breathing in and out, in and out, envisioning my baby moving down. Something I learned in my hypnobirthing class and wish I had done from the very beginning.

THE URGE TO PUSH

A little over an hour later, the nurse came in to check me once again, told me I was doing amazing and had progressed to a 9 ½. Needless to say, I felt so empowered and I knew I would make it till the very end. Ten minutes after the nurse left the room, I began to feel so much pressure and an urge to push (a feeling like having to go # 2 lol), so  I decided to listen to my body and lightly pushed and pushed. It wasn’t long until I asked the new nurse to check me because I had a feeling I was going to have the baby very soon. So she did and told me I still wasn’t fully dilated. Even though I was having the urge to push she advised me to wait, however, I chose to listen to my body instead.

I was laying on my side on the hospital bed, working with my body with each surge that would come. Chris was by my side the entire time reminding me how strong I was and how much he loved me. Shortly after pushing a few times, I felt something odd in between my legs, so I lifted up my leg and felt myself down under! With a look of confusion on my face I told the nurse: “I feel the water bag!” She looked at me in shock and asked me what I meant. Then instructed me to lay down on my back so she could take a look. Sure enough, our baby was coming!

DELIVERING OUR BABY

Surprisingly my bags were still intact! Everything happened so quickly after that. My nurse asked me if I’d like to change positions so gravity could help our little one come out. I agreed, so I slowly went from my elbow and knees to my hands and knees on the hospital bed, while Chris applied pressure on my lower back to relieve my back pains.

Our nurse suggested a more comfortable position and brought up the back of the bed so I could rest my arms on it. Such an excellent idea! Chris continued to encourage me to keep lightly pushing and focus on my breathing.

All of a sudden, I pushed and his head began to crown! Yes, I clearly remember placing my hand down there and feeling his head. My water broke and I didn’t even realize it. I panicked and started to scream. The “ring of fire” was indeed no joke my friends! Chris quickly calmed me down and reminded me to focus on my breathing.

Only a few minutes later, I felt our baby come out and Chris announced: “It’s a boy!”. Luckily my umbilical cord was long because I flung around so fast to see our baby, completely forgetting about it!  A sudden burst of energy, emotions, and a natural high took over my body as I reached out and grabbed our baby. Time stood still holding him in my arms for the very first time as we stared at his beautiful little face.  He looked so peaceful and barely cried. Those first few whimpers were music to my ears. I remember looking at him and saying “Hi Jayce! Welcome to the world baby boy.”  It was hard to believe he was finally in my arms after 38 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy and 31 hours of labor. In that moment I knew it was so worth it and would gladly do it 1000 times if I had to.

Chris did the honors of cutting the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsing. Shortly after, he held our son for the first time. My heart melted as I watched the man of my dreams hold our baby and stare at each other with so much love. 

From then on, our lives have never been the same. Thanks to him, we now have a new profound meaning of love. Welcome to the world Jayce. We love you so much.

Side Note: Yes, having an un-medicated birth was difficult, but it was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Again, I would do it again 1000 times if I had to. Bringing Jayce into the world was the most rewarding and one of the happiest moments of my life. I can’t thank God enough for a loving, motivating, supportive husband, a healthy beautiful baby boy and for such a great hospital staff who respected and also helped me have the labor I envisioned and hoped for.

If you’re pregnant and want to achieve a natural – unmedicated birth, I am here to tell you- YOU CAN DO IT! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just need some encouragement. I’d be more than happy to be there for you. 

Birth story submitted by Michelle R.

Photographs by Deirdre Leigh.

Two Mamas, Don’t Forget Dads, and Pooping Without Fear

Two Mamas, Don’t Forget Dads, and Pooping Without Fear

In case you missed Birth Without Fear on Instagram this past week…

💩 #birthwithoutfear #postpartumwithoutfear #variationsofnormal #poopwithoutfear

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Pulled Over by a Cop, the Panicky Security Guard, & a Speedy Birth

Pulled Over by a Cop, the Panicky Security Guard, & a Speedy Birth

A contraction woke me up shortly before 1am. I had been waking up to painful contractions for weeks, but this one felt different – deeper and more intense. I tried to ignore it and had almost drifted back to sleep when the next one came, strong enough I decided I’d better start timing. They were coming at 7 minutes apart, and I knew I should rest during this early labor but it was already hard to lie down through the contractions.

I went to the bathroom and when another one hit I thought, “Man, this is already painful and I’m just getting started! I’m not sure about going through all this again…” I came out and knelt on the floor for one more contraction, realizing they were now 5 minutes apart. When I got my breath back, I pulled myself up to the bed to tell Kevin we’d better get ready. As he stumbled out of bed and began collecting our things, I called up to my mom, who was coming with us to the hospital.

I didn’t feel a huge rush yet, but I knew it would take a few minutes to get ready, and I was thinking of the 40 minute drive to the hospital. It didn’t take long to get out the door, but I had to pause several times to moan and sway through contractions. I told Kevin to drive, so mom climbed in the backseat behind me. Mom told Kevin to relax and drive carefully; I told him it was okay to speed. I vaguely watched the clock and noticed the contractions were now 4 minutes apart. Kevin noticed as well and picked up his speed; in the backseat mom called the midwife to let her know we were on the way.

Moments after we pulled out on the 55mph highway, the blue lights appeared behind us. “It’s okay,” I said, “Surely he won’t give us a ticket!” In mercifully short order, the cop was walking toward the car shining his flashlight toward us. Kevin started yelling out the window, “My wife is in labor! We’re trying to get to the hospital!” while mom called similar things from the backseat. The cop apparently decided there was no other good reason for a largely pregnant lady, her mother, and her slightly frantic husband to be barreling down the highway in the middle of the night. “Well, I guess I can’t verify that, but I’ll let you go. Just try to keep it to 70 instead of 77mph.” As he walked away he called back, “Congratulations and good luck!”

We were back on the highway, crawling down the road at 70mph. There wasn’t much I could do during contractions, being restrained in the car, so I just gripped the door handle and moved my head slowly back and forth as I moaned through each one. I tried to compare to my last labor – these contractions seemed somewhere in the middle – close and intense but still manageable. At my appointment the week before I was 5cm dilated (incidentally the same starting point for my 15.5hr first labor), and I hoped I would be at least 6cm when I got to the hospital.

I couldn’t make sense of the clock anymore, but Kevin was watching the contractions go from 3 minutes to 2 minutes apart. Between contractions I was mainly aware of traffic lights and tail lights. Fortunately the roads were pretty empty at 2am. We turned off the highway into Athens – the hospital was tantalizingly close but we were stopped by a red light. The road was deserted. I was going to tell Kevin just to run it, but he swung right, made a U-turn, and turned quickly back on the road.

Less than a mile from the hospital a pack of cars suddenly pulled out in front of us, blocking the whole road, driving under the speed limit, waving their football flags. “They are probably drunk and don’t want to get pulled over!” Kevin groaned. I’ve never been less of a football fan than at that moment. A few frustrating minutes later we turned off into the hospital. I was very glad to have finally arrived, and I didn’t feel a huge sense of urgency. The contractions were strong but still manageable. We pulled up to the ER; Kevin jumped out, I heaved myself from the car, and mom moved around to drive it to parking.

The moment we reached the registration desk another contraction hit and I gripped the edge, moaning. The registration nurse started asking questions which Kevin answered since I obviously couldn’t speak. Suddenly I felt it: that unforgettable, overwhelming need to push. “Pressure!” I gasped, and Kevin immediately moved to put pressured on my lower back. “No,” I cried as my water broke, “I feel PRESSURE!”

The nurse kicked into high gear, calling again for transport. “Don’t push!” She said, “You don’t want to have this baby right here – don’t push!” Which I imagine is kind of like telling someone having an asthma attack to”just breathe,” but I tried my best. Childbirth books should really include more information on how to keep from having a baby.

A few minutes later a security guard, apparently the only person around, came running up and told me to sit in the wheelchair. “I can’t!” I cried. Movement at this point seemed impossible. It felt like she was crowning, but I thought, “No, that’s ridiculous. Not already!” I managed to lower myself onto the edge of the chair and we were off. Kevin stayed behind to sign some forms (he has no idea what he signed) and ran after, catching us just before the elevator closed. Which is fortunate, since otherwise he would have missed the birth.

As I gasped and panted and tried not to push through another contraction, the security guard said in a slightly panicked voice, “Don’t push! Don’t have this baby on me! We’re almost there.” We raced through the back hallways and I heard her yelling for the nurses as the labor and delivery came into view. (The waiting nurse later said she thought I was the one yelling, until she saw me sitting calmly while the security guard panicked.)

The nurse led us into a room and began getting the IV antibiotics ready, asking me to get on the bed. It felt like an impossible task – only the second time this labor that I felt like, “I can’t do this!” I heaved myself onto the bed and landed on all fours just as another contraction hit. The nurse was saying, “I just need you to lie down so I can get in the IV.” Before I could even reply, I felt the force of my body bearing down and cried, “I feel the head!!”

And sure enough, I reached down and felt that the head was out. The nurse immediately abandoned the IV saying, “Oh goodness! Lie down! I need you to lie down!” In the third semi-impossible move, I managed to flip over onto my back. The nurse shoved my skirt out of the way saying, “Okay, give me a little push,” and out came the rest of the body. The baby broke into lusty cries.

The feeling of relief was overwhelmed by the shock of seeing the baby lying on the bed. I couldn’t believe it had happened so fast. It was 2:35am – less than 2 hours since the first contraction, 10 minutes since we arrived in the hospital, and less than a minute since we got to the room. The nurse was excited because it was her first delivery, but it happened so fast she didn’t even have any equipment. She put the baby on my chest and a moment later another nurse brought in the supplies. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Kevin cut it.

My midwife and my mom arrived at about the same time, both rather surprised to see the baby already there. “I should have met you in the ER!” my midwife exclaimed. As she delivered the placenta the nurse asked when my contractions had started. When I told her it had been less than two hours she said, “Yeah, I’d call that a precipitous labor! Next time, if you even think about going into labor, you’d better head for the hospital!”

Story and photos submitted by Ruth F. 

Surrender to the Ocean’s Tide: a Water Birth Story

Surrender to the Ocean’s Tide: a Water Birth Story

I had begun having Braxton Hicks contractions at regular intervals starting at 36 weeks. Every day I would contract at 5 minutes apart and end the day at 3 minutes apart. So on May 4th, 2017, which happened to be my due date, I didn’t think too much of my contractions, which now felt stronger. After picking up my daughter from school at 1:30 I came home and got in the bath tub, at which point the contractions slowed to 10 minutes apart. At 3 pm l decided to call my midwives to talk about my symptoms.

Once I got out of the tub the contractions picked back up at 5 minute intervals. This time they seemed crampier, more intense. They accelerated very quickly and within minutes I was making what my husband calls “tribal” sounds that signified it was real this time. However, I was still in denial that this was really “it”, and didn’t call my husband until 3:45pm. My 4-year-old daughter was watching a movie in the living room and periodically came to check on me back in my bedroom. Despite the noises that I was making, somehow, I was still in denial that this was really it. Thank goodness, I DID decide to inform everyone on my birth team, including my photographer. Little did I know how soon the baby would come.

The midwives arrived around 4:15pm and announced that I was fully dilated. I was so relieved! Soon after my husband walked in from work. If he would have left his office just 10 minutes later I’m quite sure he would have hit traffic and not made it to the birth.

I then texted my photographer who lives close by. She arrived at my house at 4:45, just in time to photograph me working through a few contractions. The pool was quickly set up and I stepped into the warm water. It was so comforting. In between contractions I felt fine. I carried on conversation and even told the photographer to open the blinds so we could get better lighting. We smiled for a nice family picture, and then I resumed my work.

With the next contraction, I felt what I can only describe as a “pop” of a rubber band. It took me a moment to mentally register this feeling, and a few seconds later I announced that my water had broken. With the water breaking came an undeniable urge to push. I focused inwardly, pushed gently, and out came little Levi! I did not feel a “ring of fire” this time, instead I felt what can only be described as getting kicked in the crotch with cleats.

After that moment I felt his head, then his neck, then shoulders, then body, all squirm out of me. That part was not painful at all! It was such a neat feeling that I do not recall feeling with my first birth. It was such an “out of body” experience, pun intended! I birthed him on all fours, and he slid out behind me. My daughter whispered, “Look Mama, there’s the baby!” My midwife picked him up as I rolled over into a sitting position, resting my back against the side of the tub. He immediately let out a strong, loud cry. I rested him on my chest and took in all the wonder of what had just occurred. A few minutes later, I got out of the tub and crawled into bed with my family. I laid him on my chest and he found and latched onto my breast. Soon after I pushed the placenta out. I did not bleed very much, neither in the tub nor post-partum.

I was so much more “present” for this birth than my first water birth, which was also swift and peaceful, however, I must have mentally escaped to “labor land” with my first. For this birth, I felt so clear minded in between and even during contractions. This must be why I was in such denial that I was in labor until right at the end, because I partly expected that mental fog feeling of labor land to come over me if it was real labor. My first birth was nearly 4 hours long, and I hadn’t had even a twinge or a cramp until I went into obvious labor with her. With my second birth, I had so many contractions for many weeks leading up to the birth. I had become like the boy who cried wolf, thinking every single day that the baby was coming, and eventually doubting myself, feeling more confused than ever about what real labor even felt like.

This birth confirmed what I already knew to be true from my first: birth can be so very simple, if we just allow ourselves to surrender to the ocean’s tide, instead of swimming against it.

Story submitted by Mackenzie A. 

Photographs taken by Kat Reiser

The Role of Marijuana During Pregnancy

The Role of Marijuana During Pregnancy

Photo courtesy of tagesschau.de.

Marijuana. Cannabis. Weed. Pot. Whatever name you refer to it by (there are dozens more), legalized marijuana is a very prominent topic in our nation.

Currently there are four states where you can legally buy weed if you’re 21, with California joining the mix in 2018. You can legally possess and smoke weed in eight states and Washington, DC. 29 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Chances are in the next 5-10 years or less that medical marijuana will be legal in all 50 states, at the very least.

So what role does marijuana have, if any, during pregnancy?

Currently, over three percent of women admit to using marijuana during pregnancy according to a 2015 government survey. The number is more than likely higher than that.

According to a woman going by the name of “Jane” in a recent article on WECT.com the nausea during her pregnancy was too much to bear.

“I would just eat a few almonds here and there, That was the only thing that I could keep down, almonds and seltzer water. And as soon as I vaped the cannabis, instantly I was hungry and was able to hold down entire meals, and it was great.”

The story goes on to quote Emily Earlenbaugh, Ph.D., a medical marijuana card holder herself for chronic pain issues and a cannabis consultant.

“I think using cannabis during pregnancy is a growing trend right now. It’s important to look at the medical research and see is this a safe option relative to other medications that you might use in place of it or relative to using nothing at all.”

Safety has always been the reason of opposition for legalization of marijuana, with opponents often claiming weed is the gateway drug to harsher substances such as meth, cocaine, heroine, and more. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association admits there is little research on the subject of marijuana and pregnancy, but there is cause for concern. It links anemia and low birth weight to marijuana use and says there is a higher chance for infants to be placed in the NICU.

Dr. Earlenbaugh says there is more to the story.

“If you’re already using tobacco, alcohol during pregnancy, you’re more likely to also be using cannabis, and we really can’t say whether those patients who are reporting cannabis use are not taking other substances at the same time.”

What are your thoughts? Is cannabis something to be considered during pregnancy? Would you consider it? Have you considered it or used it during pregnancy? Let us know in the comments below!

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