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Category: Cesarean Birth

Birth Story of Ace {Homebirth Transfer to Cesarean}

Birth Story of Ace {Homebirth Transfer to Cesarean}

My birth story begins well before we even conceived Ace. My sisters both had cesareans for various reasons. I began to question everything about birth and I knew I wanted something better for myself. After all our research we decided a homebirth with a midwife would be best. We planned to give birth at my husband’s mother’s house because our house wasn’t suitable for a birth.

I was getting fearful and anxious because it was Wednesday and I would reach 42 weeks by the weekend. I felt like the clock was ticking on me and I did not want an induction. I kept telling Ace that I was ready any time he was. I was thrilled when I lost bits of my mucus plug on Wednesday. Thursday morning, Thanksgiving, I woke to sporadic but strong contractions. This was early labor for me. I knew it. I was freaking out because Thanksgiving dinner was being held at the same place my birth was. I didn’t want people to know I was in labor so the thought of having to kick them out didn’t go over well with me. Fortunately early labor lasted for a few days.

Friday we went out to eat as a family; my father and grandmother were in town. I had the hardest time riding to the restaurant and sitting through the meal. No one knew what was going on. It was very apparent that I was uncomfortable though. We called my friend who was going to photograph the labor and told her to head our way since she was 3 hours away. I told my father and grandmother that I was in early labor and would likely have a baby this weekend. They could stay but they were advised to keep the information to themselves. My mom was so mad when she later  found out my dad knew all along. My dad kept telling me I needed to go to the hospital. I just said “OK Dad.” I did everything I could to get it to speed up but I was not having any success. My friend showed up and we entertained her and spent time together for an entire day.

home birth

Saturday night I told her we felt it would be best if she returned to her family after we ate. I put the lasagna in the oven and within 15 minutes I was flooded with contractions. They were hitting hard and strong at less than 5 minutes apart and about 1.5 – 2 minutes long. I started throwing up and freaking out. I knew we had to make the 30 minute drive to my mother in law’s. My midwife reassured me that this was just the beginning and we would be OK. I was really struggling because everything I read hinted that you threw up in transition. Well for me you just throw up, whenever. A lot. (The contractions here were as intense as my later transition contractions. Lesson: labor where you will be most relaxed!)

We all packed up the car and headed on our way to my MIL’s. Our driveway was a mile long and we had to stop just outside the driveway because things were getting bad. I prayed and asked God to get me there quickly with no contractions. I had read someone’s birth story where she had done that. Well, it worked. I made it all the way there and they picked back up after we arrived.

Here is where I lose track and focus. I did notice that my underwear were constantly wet after my midwife arrived (she came because I was freaked out.) She tested my fluid and it was indeed amniotic fluid. So we didn’t do any vaginal exams. She watched me and said I still had a long way to go. She drove back to her house, about 2.5 hours away, poor lady! Once she got almost home I begged her to come back. I really just needed the peace of having her nearby. From here I labored in and out of the tub, went on walks, took castor oil, homeopathic remedies, etc. My labor just kept turning off and on and off and on. I would have a solid hour of back to back contractions and then another 2. I remember crying so much because I didn’t know what I was doing.

husband support during birth

My birth team consisted of my husband, my mother in law, my photographer, and 2 midwives. The amount of support and love that surrounded me was amazing. I recall asking to be checked for the first time. I was at 6cm and paper thin! Yay EPO! For hours and hours I was stuck between 6-8cm. During one of the checks my midwife let us know that my water was still intact and I must have a high leak. That news made me feel a lot better. At some point I sent my photographer home. I was worrying about her and felt like it was negatively impacting my birth.

After what seemed like hours of being stuck at 7cm my water was bulging. My midwife talked about breaking my water and before she even reached the bag it burst and sent gushes of water out all over the towels we had laid down. I had thought my contractions were difficult before but that was nothing compared to after the water was gone.  Somewhere during my pregnancy I had pulled a muscle in my groin on my right side. I’m telling you this because if there is anything you get from my story it is do not pull a muscle! Every single time I had an intense contraction my leg would get this burning shooting pain radiating from the muscle and down to the toe. I frequently said that if I could just numb my leg I would be OK. I couldn’t concentrate at all because of the pain in my leg.

A few more hours past and nothing was happening. I was contracting but I wasn’t dilating. I was stalled around 8.5-9cm. I wasn’t dilating any further. After this I started pushing. I tried to push and push with all my might for about 4 hours. I was swelling really bad and had developed a cervical lip. My midwife worked to push my cervix open, get the rest of the lip out of the way.  I was squatting in the sumo position and I could feel Ace inch down as I pushed and immediately move right back up when the contraction stopped. His head was there but for some reason he wasn’t moving past that one point. I took a rest and laid back on the floor. I heard whispering and I knew what was being discussed. It was time to go to the hospital. I had been in labor for 32 hours, 4 hours of pushing, and so much swelling that I couldn’t close my legs. It was time. I was OK with that. We were all OK with that.

We got into the car and drove to the hospital. It was somewhere around 2:30am. We had clear roads and a straight path to the hospital. It was an excruciating 15 minute drive.  I asked my husband what he thought was about to happen. He said he wasn’t sure. I said I’m probably going to get a cesarean because I am so tired and can’t push anymore. He said that was OK because we had done every single thing we could do. My care up to this point was amazing.

home birth

We walked into the hospital and told them what was going on. They attempted to wheel me up to the L&D floor but I let the nurse know I wouldn’t be using a wheelchair since my baby was stuck in my pelvis. She asked me if I had any pain medication. I laughed and replied no I was having a home birth and that wasn’t an option. She almost lost her mind at this point. I don’t think she knew what a midwife was or that homebirth was something people do.

When the on call OB walked into the room one of the first things out of her mouth was how she knew I had GD because my belly was so big. She asked my midwife a thousand questions. She then asked me to try to push the baby out a few more times. Without warning she shoved her arm up inside me. I mentioned I was swollen right. Yes, I think my husband decided at this point there was nothing she could do to redeem herself. I pushed a bit to no avail. Ace was stuck and would need a cesarean. They strapped monitors to me and I rolled onto my side. The machine went crazy and now it “was a matter of life or death.” I realize that they do ]really have life or death situations in hospitals but I don’t think this really was one. I was already prepared to have the surgery.

They wheeled me back into the OR. At first I was going to be put under but I was so thankful they were able to give me a spinal. I relaxed the moment relief from the pain came. I kept asking for my husband. It seemed like they were going to operate without him. My husband came in and moments later my baby boy was brought into the world. Monday morning November 29th at 4:02. Ace started crying, so did we. I remember the look on my husbands face. I will never forget it. They brought Ace to me and as soon as he heard our voices he stopped crying. Daddy and baby went off to the nursery moments later.

Once they pulled Ace out, mind you it took a bit because he was very stuck, my doctor joked about how big he was. “Wow, no wonder he was stuck. He’s a toddler!” After everyone left and I lay there being sewn up I said “You know, natural labor isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be.” She replied with “Oh honey, you weren’t even to the hardest part yet. The ring of fire is by far the worst.” I was crushed. Not only did I endure a physical assault (remember my swollen parts and her arm) but a verbal assault, too. My 32 hours was nothing apparently. But you know what, because of how that one doctor mistreated me I have risen above it and have pushed for change. I’ve told everyone I know about how they can take steps to better care, not just maternity care. Too often we let healthcare professionals common courtesy and respect just slide. The OB called the nursery to see how big Ace was. She asked me to bet. I think I said 9 1/2 to 10 lbs. She laughed and said no 11lbs 1oz!

Back in recovery I was out cold. Fast asleep. My husband and son joined me about an hour later. I later found out that my husband and son were doing skin to skin in the nursery while I was in recovery. I believe that my husband and my son had a great bond because of this and I would recommend it to any time the mother is not able to do immediate skin to skin. It also really made me cry. It made me realize that my husband really does listen to all the facts that I spout off to him about birth.

Boy, I wish I knew about family centered cesarean birth back then! I also totally forgot to ask for my placenta. A very sweet nurse helped me breast feed Ace. My midwife left shortly after the birth and she came back the next day to see me. I asked about VBAC. She said definitely! We talked about Aces size and how I’d want to keep a better diet next time. We knew he was going to be big. We both have large babies in our families and he was 42 weeks and 2 days.

In the end I have peace over his entrance. His size and his position, OP, made his journey a little tougher than the average (You can birth big babies in any presentation! Don’t let fear tell you otherwise!). Recovering from 32 hours of labor and a cesarean is very rough. It took me about 3 to 4 weeks to even feel remotely normal again. I had to overcome many comments about how I was not going to be able to breast-feed my son without supplementing with formula. I’m so thrilled to say that we breast-fed without a lick of formula for a whole year and half.

Photography by Jessica Hamilton of Timeless Treasures by Jess.

Journey to a Peaceful Planned C-section {Twin Girls}

Journey to a Peaceful Planned C-section {Twin Girls}

My story begins when I was just a child. Ever since I can remember, the one thing I wanted to be was a mother. Sure, I had other dreams and aspirations as well – but, while my idea of the perfect career and life was constantly changing, my goal of becoming a mother never once faltered or waned. That dream, however, would come true too soon when I became pregnant at the age of nineteen by a man I’d only been dating for a month. It was bad timing, and there were a lot of struggles – but in my heart I was overwhelmed with happiness. I was growing life! What could possibly be better than that? But, as time wore on, my happiness began to be whittled away by the stress and terror of being a young mom in a new relationship. I spent the majority of my pregnancy alone while my partner worked out of town. I had no vehicle, no friends – I didn’t even have cable TV or the internet to help me pass the time. I was constantly lonely and afraid. And, during the times that my partner was at home, he was cold and aloof – dealing with the stress of the pregnancy in the only way he knew how.

I became bitter; angry. I’d always suffered from anxiety and depression, but now it was out of control. I went days without getting out of bed. I had always wanted to have a baby, but my fairy tale was turning into a nightmare. I felt useless, unwanted, ugly, and broken. Weren’t pregnant women supposed to feel gorgeous and glowing? Weren’t their partners supposed to adore them, support them, and tell them how amazing they were? I felt cheated out of something I had looked forward to since childhood. I was terrified that my child would become tainted in my womb, malformed because of all the fear and hate that I held in my heart.

And then there was the traumatic birth. The only research I had done while I was pregnant included reading a book that my mother gave me and watching reruns of “A Baby Story” on TLC. I had no idea what birth really was – I truly believed that the doctor and nurses had my best interest in mind and would take good care of me. I went into “preterm labor” three times the month before my due date – each time my labor was stopped and I was sent home after one night’s stay in the hospital. Looking back, I am certain that my child and my body knew that we were ready to deliver at that time.

May 14, 2006 – Mother’s Day. My water broke as I was getting ready to go to bed for the night. We immediately went to the hospital, and I was given pitocin to “help things along.” I wasn’t contracting at all, and still didn’t even after they began the pitocin. I slept that night, with my partner and my mom taking shifts watching me. In the morning I was beginning to have some contractions, but nothing regular or painful. Months after my birth, we found out that the hospital had received a “faulty” batch of pitocin at the time of my delivery, so it’s definitely possible that I was given bad drugs.

Later on, sometime early afternoon, my contractions finally started to kick in – but they were far from normal. I would have four or five contractions back to back, and then I would have ten or fifteen minutes of nothing in between. It only took a few hours of this before I became exhausted. I’d previously requested to not have an epidural – but after some “convincing” from the nurses, I finally agreed to have one put in. By the time the anesthesiologist made it to my room, however, I was past the point of being able to have one. At that point, in the middle of a cluster of contractions, the nurses convinced me it’d be best if they gave me a dose of stadol. I don’t remember agreeing, but I must have – because the next thing I knew I was woozy and out of it and I didn’t even know my own name. The next few hours were a blurry haze. I remember being told to push. I remember pushing, and being yelled at to push harder, and crying, and being yelled at, and feeling like I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to have this baby. At one point I looked over at my partner and my mom and begged them to make it stop. Shortly after, consent forms for a C-section were being shoved in my face. I signed them. I just wanted it to be over.

The C-section was probably very normal, as far as sections go. I was terrified of being cut open, but after the spinal took the pain away I was in such a state of relieved bliss (part of this was probably the drugs) that I didn’t mind. My partner stayed by my head while our baby was being delivered – a baby that was so stuck in my pelvis that the doctor was out of breath after tugging and yanking and pushing him out. I remember the doctor saying, “Well, no wonder. This baby is way too big; he never would have come naturally.”

It was late at night, and by the time I went into recovery most of the hospital was shut down. So I lay in a bed, by myself, in near darkness (apparently they didn’t want to turn on more lights than they had to), for over an hour. I remember hearing the doctors and nurses complain about having to come in at 7pm on a Monday to perform an emergency section. I felt like a failure and inconvenience. I ended up shaking more than the nurses were comfortable with, so they gave me a drug to help, which also meant I had to wait longer to see my baby. By the time I got out of recovery, the nurses had convinced my partner and mom that they should go against my wishes to exclusively breastfeed my baby because I was “taking too long to recover” and my baby would “starve” if they didn’t give him formula.

But then I saw my son, and got to hold him for the first time, and suddenly everything else didn’t seem so bad. I was elated and giddy with happiness – I had a son! He was perfect and gorgeous and the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Unfortunately, that feeling of peace and happiness was extremely short lived.

When my mom and partner left for the night, I was left alone with a newborn who didn’t want to latch on because he’d already experienced the easiness of eating from a bottle. He cried, I cried, and we continued on this way for nine months. He was an extremely colicky baby, and I had no idea how to handle it. I remember staring at him and feeling like the worst mother on the face of the planet – because I didn’t know how to make my son stop screaming. He screamed nearly every second he was awake, and every time he screamed I cried. That, along with the PPD that kicked in about a week after he was born, made my life as a new mom worse than any hell I could possibly imagine. I hated myself. I couldn’t bond with my son – and I hated myself even more because of it. And so began my three year stretch of just barely scraping by on a day to day basis.

When my son was three, I made the hard choice to leave my boyfriend and start a new life on my own. I didn’t have a job, a place to stay, and no money – but I knew in my heart that I needed a fresh start. I built myself up from nothing and, with the help of my parents; I succeeded in securing a decent life for me and my son. It wasn’t ideal – but it worked for us. I finally faced my issues with depression and anxiety, and for the first time in forever I felt like I was regaining some control over my life.

Fast forward a couple years – a couple jobs, a couple boyfriends, and a couple stressful situations later. I’d grown remarkably as a person, as a woman, and as a mother. I felt in control and happy. I had a great job and a new boyfriend that I adored. I wasn’t on birth control because my previous partner had a vasectomy, and I was looking into getting an IUD. And then I found out I was pregnant.

Fear. Panic. Denial. Was this really happening to me again? How could I be so reckless and stupid? I was terrified of going through another traumatic pregnancy and birth. Luckily, my boyfriend turned out to be an amazing source of support – he showered me with love and affection from the moment the test came up positive, and every time I panicked and tried to push him away he would stand strong and stay by my side. But I was still scared of everything to come – what if I had another child that I couldn’t bond with? What if I lost everything I’d worked so hard to achieve? I couldn’t stand the thought of going through what I went through with my son, even if everything did turn out okay in the end.

But then, the most amazing thing happened. When I was ten weeks along, I went in with a bit of spotting and had a precautionary ultrasound. What we found was a completely healthy TWIN pregnancy. I was having two babies! I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw my two little angels on that ultrasound screen, everything suddenly clicked into place. I was at peace with myself and this pregnancy. A couple months later we found out that we were having girls, and the joy grew even more. I was having daughters. I felt like everything was finally falling into place. This is what I was MEANT to do – this was the life I was meant to have.

But, slowly, a new type of fear kicked in. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be terrifying for a pregnant woman – especially a woman with a “high risk” pregnancy. I read horror stories about TTTS and Vanishing Twin Syndrome. I’d never worried about my son while I was pregnant with him. I didn’t realize how many things could go wrong. So, while I was finally enjoying a joyful pregnancy with a wonderfully supportive partner, I was constantly terrified of something horrible happening. When we found out that our twins were sharing a placenta, the fear got worse. And when I showed signs of my cervix shortening and was put on bed rest at home, the panic truly reached its peak. I spent every waking moment terrified that my water would break and my babies would die, that something beyond my control would come and take my precious girls away.

When I was put on bed rest, a friend of mine who was training to be a doula sent me some information about the effects of bed rest on pregnant mothers. I began to realize that women had been birthing babies since the beginning of time, and that a mother has the ability to know her own body better than any doctor ever could. I did more research – and that’s when I found your blog.

I spent days going through your site. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of babies and birth. It all made so much sense. I read countless stories about beautiful, brave mothers who listened to their own bodies and had wonderful, peaceful births. The new awareness that dawned on me changed me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. For the first time I began to realize how much damage my first pregnancy and birth had done. I began to understand the resentment and guilt that I still carried from it. I began to acknowledge the fear and pain I’d been holding onto since then. I realized that I had spent the last seven years feeling like a failure as a mother, and I saw how that negativity had infected every aspect of my life. And, even more remarkably, I began to forgive and let go. I cried for days. Afterward, I felt like a new person. I felt strong, capable, and informed. I felt peace. I felt joy. I felt the beauty of the lives growing inside of me, and for the first time in my life I felt capable of being the mother my son and girls deserved.

And that’s how I ended up here, 30w2d along with my Mo/Di girls, and confident in my own strength as a woman and a mother. I’ll be having a repeat C-section this pregnancy – the hospital here doesn’t even consider VBAC and pushes for sections with every case of twins. But I’m at peace with it, and I don’t feel forced or taken advantage of in any way. I feel informed, capable, and like I’m choosing the option that’s best for me and my babies – not like I’m a passenger along on a ride that I can’t control. So, even though I’ll never get the dream birth that I’ve always wanted, I know in my heart that the resentment and guilt I felt with my first C-section won’t be an issue this time around. I feel beautiful, strong, and calm. And I feel immensely grateful to you and the wonderful women of BWF for opening my eyes and sparking my healing process. Thank you, you beautiful souls.

The first picture is of me and my son, who is now seven. The next three are me and my girls at fourteen weeks, twenty-eight weeks, and thirty weeks. Hopefully in a couple months I’ll have more pictures and a second, happier birth story to share.

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2 Sets of Twins, 16.5 Months Apart {IVF and VBAC}

2 Sets of Twins, 16.5 Months Apart {IVF and VBAC}

Thank you to the mother who shares both her birth stories of her FOUR children.

{Part 1}

My husband and I knew we would need help conceiving.  He had low sperm count, and I, well just didn’t ovulate.  We met with a fertility doctor and I had the impression that we would be pregnant within a month or two and we would be on our way to parenthood.  Boy was I wrong!  We tried 3 IUIs (intrauterine inseminations) which all failed before moving on to IVF (in vitro fertilization.)  The transfer for our first IVF cycle was cancelled because I hyper stimulated and it just was not safe to do the transfer.  We froze our embryos, did two more transfers which both ended up in miscarriage.  The thought of doing another cycle almost seemed unbearable- the injections, pills, patches, appointments and possible disappointment.  I wanted to be a mom so badly and there was no other way it was going to happen so we gave it one more shot- and it worked!  It REALLY worked! We were expecting twins!  The following story shares the details of our baby girls’ birth via c-section.

I knew that I had a c-section scheduled for Thursday, October 6th at 7:30am, so I spent all day Wednesday getting ready for the big day.  My mom and sister flew in from Minnesota so I picked them up at the airport and we ran errands for a couple hours afterwards.  I had so many things to do once we got home from running the errands.  I probably washed 5 loads of clothes, made homemade chicken noodle soup for after the birth, cooked dinner, etc.  

After the chores were all done everyone went to sleep at about 11:30pm.

I wasn’t really very tired so I decided to catch up on CSI which I had recorded on the DVR.  It was about midnight and I wasn’t really sleeping, but rather in that half-awake/half asleep mode when I felt some pressure “down below.”  It was a very strange feeling and all of the sudden my water broke!  It was a HUGE gush that I was totally not expecting.  I got up off of the couch and started walking towards the bedroom saying, “Honey! I think my water just broke!”  (Meanwhile leaking everywhere.)  Brian was half asleep but I am pretty sure that I shocked him awake.  We were both in a slight panic and called the hospital right away.  They said to come on in! We asked if it would be alright if I took a shower first and they said that was fine.  I didn’t know when I would be able to shower again and didn’t want to feel like yucky amniotic fluid!

My mom and sister woke up as well and helped us get the last few things put into my bag and get the bags in the car.  We drove straight to the hospital and it was one of the longest 15 minute car rides ever!  Brian dropped me off at the door to the ER and parked the car.  I went inside and told the lady that I was in labor.  She was not the speediest of people and I found it odd that she took her sweet time to get me all checked in.  

Anyways, someone came down from Labor & Delivery with a wheelchair and took Brian and I up to the birthing unit.  I was immediately hooked up to the heart rate monitors for the babies to make sure that they were not in distress (which they weren’t.)  I informed the nurses that there was meconium (baby poop) from one of the babies in my amniotic fluid.  From what I know, its not a huge deal but they don’t want the babies to inhale it when they are born.  We had hoped to wait until morning to do the c-section with our regular OB but since there was meconium they just couldn’t wait!  

Before I knew it, I was being stuck for an IV.  I have horrible veins the only place to get an IV in is in my hand.  No one ever believes me and tries somewhere else first and ends up going on my hand anyways.  I wish they would just listen the first time and save us all some pain!  

After the IV was started we signed some paperwork for the anesthesia and talked to the anesthesiologist.  When we were done with that, off we went to the operating room!

Brian had to dress in scrubs and wait outside until the spinal epidural was completed.  I went into the OR alone and must say that the spinal was the scariest thing ever!  The anesthesiologist would not stop talking and kept saying how he couldn’t get the needle in right or something.  He numbed my back first with a local (which wasn’t really working) and after what felt like forever got the spinal in the right place.  My legs went heavy right away and I was totally numb after about 10 minutes.  I did NOT like the feeling at all.  Very strange.  They let Brian in and I was so relieved to see him. They got to work quickly and before I knew it I was cut open!  I remember asking Brian if they had started yet and he laughed because I was already cut open.  

C

harlotte came out first at 2:44am. She was 6lbs 3oz.  I heard her cry and it was the sweetest sound I had ever heard.  The nurse took her to the station they had set up and scored her on the APGAR test to see how she was doing.  She scored a 7 after 1 minute and a 9 after 5 minutes.  Evelyn was born just after Charlotte at 2:46am. Evelyn weighed 7lbs 0oz.  I remember it taking her longer to cry than I had expected.  It felt like I waited and waited and waited to hear her cry. Her APGAR scores were 9 after 1 minute and 9 after 5 minutes.  I was so full of emotion that I almost didn’t know what to feel.  The medicine made me feel very strange and the whole experience was pretty surreal.  I was able to see Charlotte right away but didn’t see Evelyn for about 10 minutes after she was born.  They told me that they held her up but I didn’t see her I guess.  After Brian cut the cords they let us hold the babies for a few minutes before taking them.

We each got an arm band for each of the babies before they left the room and Brian made sure to snap a lot of pictures as well.  The staff in the room was also nice enough to take pictures of us holding the babies and they even took a video of the birth for us!

Before going to the hospital, we had agreed that Brian would stay with the babies after they were born.  He left the OR and they finished stitching me up and took me to recovery.  I was in recovery all by myself and it was such a strange feeling.  Brian eventually came in to recovery with me while the babies were in the nursery.  

Once the feeling had started coming back into my legs they took me to the postpartum unit where I could see and hold my babies.  I breastfed them right away and just stared at them in awe. I was so in love with them the moment I saw their beautiful faces.  Its hard to imagine loving someone so much that I had never met before, but it was love at first sight!  I had been waiting so long for this day to come and it was all I had imagined it to be.

Twin C-section, IVF

{Part 2…or 4}

When my girls were about 6 months old we decided to try for “one more” since we had so much trouble conceiving the first time.  On our first frozen transfer we were so happy to be expecting twins again!  We were thrilled, and terrified all at the same time.  Two sets of twins? Sixteen and a half months apart? How would we do it? I was happy our girls were born safely via c-section, but wanted to experience a vaginal delivery.  The next part is about how how our miracle twin boys were born via VBAC.

The induction was all set for Thursday, February 21st at 8 a.m.  The doctor said that it could take days, but I was really just anticipating going in, getting hooked up to some Pitocin and having some babies!

We woke up to about 6 inches of snow so we decided to leave the house early.  It was very slow going, but we stopped for coffee anyways because I knew I couldn’t have anything to eat once we started the induction.  We made it to the hospital about 10 minutes late, checked in at the ER and went up to the labor and delivery floor.  Once we got there, I was hooked up to the IV, started on some fluids, and then waited a little while for the doctor to come in and check my cervix to decide how much Pitocin to get started.  My cervix had been closed on Monday and oddly enough, I was dilated to 2-3 and about 70% effaced!  I was elated to hear that, because I knew if I was still closed my chances of the vaginal delivery were low.

The nurse hooked up the babies to the monitors, but they had trouble staying on.  She would get them on while I was sitting on my left side but as soon as I moved my hips, baby A (Elliott) would fall off the monitor.  We battled this scenario for a while and finally the nurse came in and said, “If we can’t monitor the babies, then we can’t use the Pitocin.”  Crap.

A few minutes later the nurse came back and said that I should get my epidural so that I would be more comfortable and then the doctor would break my bag of water.  Once the water was broken, they could use the internal probe to monitor Elliott’s heart rate instead of the external one that just wasn’t working out.

I was terrified of getting the epidural.  All I could think about was the spinal block that I got for my c-section when I had the girls and how awful it was.  The anesthesiologist was yelling at me and just wasn’t very friendly.

A very youngish blonde woman came in and told me she would be doing my epidural.  She was kind and very patient while I asked her a million questions about what it would feel like and what I should expect to feel, etc. once the epidural was placed.  It was absolutely great and nothing like my experience before.  Once it was placed, my lower body got heavy, but not really numb per se.  I could still shift around and move, thank goodness!  It was way better than I expected and I could sit comfortably now.

The doctor came in soon after and broke Elliott’s bag of water.  I couldn’t believe how much it gushed!  The nurse and the doc made comments as well about how much water was in there and it was only from one of the babies!

The contractions started getting a little bit stronger and closer together after the water broke.  I could see the peaks on the monitors, but really only felt pressure at this point.  I was getting excited thinking about how soon it could be that my babies would be born!  It was now about 5 p.m. and the nurse came to check me again.  I was about 7cm dilated… Hooray, I thought!  Things were moving in the right direction.  I was petrified that labor would stall out and I would end up with a c-section anyways.

Meanwhile all of this was going on, Brian and I were just hanging out, taking cat naps, and updating our Facebook.  Our friends and family knew we were going in for the induction and were checking in frequently because they were so excited for us!

Day turned into evening and I wondered if we would ever have these boys… The nurses changed shifts and so we had a new nurse for the rest of the labor.  The nurse we had all day really wanted to know the boys’ names, but we didn’t tell her.  She said she would check back the next day.

After the shift change, the nurse seemed to be more aggressive and kept pumping up the Pitocin.  The contractions got stronger and stronger and pretty soon I just about couldn’t take it anymore!  The anesthesiologist checked in at one point and ended up giving me a boost in the epidural catheter because I was really feeling the pain from the contractions and they just weren’t letting up.  My legs really went numb after that and I started having panic attacks because I couldn’t move my legs at all.  It was the worst feeling ever!  Exactly what I didn’t like about the spinal epidural from the c-section.

The fun really began around 10pm.  The contractions kept getting stronger and stronger and the pain was almost unbearable.  The really fun part about Pitocin is that it creates strong contractions that just don’t let up!  With natural labor, there is down time between the contractions but not with the Pitocin!  They were about 2-3 minutes apart for what felt like an eternity.  I pretty much turned into a crazy person at this point.  I yelled, screamed, swore, and said many crazy things because I didn’t know what else to do.  I told Brian I wanted to go home and that we should leave. I texted my mom. I wrote some crazy Facebook posts in my group of fellow twin mamas, played words with friends…. I just wanted to keep my mind off of the horrendous pain but it just wasn’t working.

About 12:30 one of the machines started beeping.  It was my epidural monitor and it was out of meds.  I called the nurse in to see what it was and she told me the “great” news.  She went to go find the anesthesiologist and she was in a freaking c-section! What!  My meds were empty, I felt like I was about to die, and there was nothing we could do about it until she got out!

Somewhere around this point, the nurse checked me again and I was 9 ¾ she said.  Great! Time to push? Not yet.  All night long I kept telling the nurse (in a frenetic voice) that I didn’t know how to push and that I was scared and couldn’t do it.  She must have thought I was a nut.  She kept telling me that it was the easiest part of the labor and I thought SHE was the nut.  Anyways, we waited for the doc and the anesthesiologist to get out of surgery to see what the plan was.  I was tired, in pain, and didn’t really know how much more I could take.  I’m pretty sure I told them 1000x that I didn’t know why I had chosen to have a vaginal birth and that maybe I should just have a c-section.  The nurse and doctor had to convince me multiple times that this was what I wanted and that I shouldn’t quit now because I had already been through so much.

At 1:25am, it was finally time to push.  I was so exhausted and had no idea how I was going to get these babies out.  I had wasted all of my energy screaming at Brian for the previous 3 hours.  He was a champ though.  He just kept saying, “You’re doing great! Keep breathing!” I told him that I was freaking breathing and that he needed to say something else.  So glad he stayed calm for the both of us….

When the pushing started I think the doc was worried that I wouldn’t have enough energy to push them out.  My pushes were horrible and weak.  The nurse said that the pushing could take hours…. HOURS? Seriously?  I had no idea how I was going to do it.

The plan was to push baby Elliott way down and when he was getting close, we would go to the operating room to deliver them.  I pushed for about two hours in the regular birthing room.  It was just me, Brian, the nurse, and the doctor in there.  It was much more casual than I had imagined.  Brian had some music playing on his phone and we were all having regular conversations between the contractions.  They wouldn’t let me drink any water and Brian was in charge of giving me the ice chips because I had the worst dry mouth I’ve ever had before!  We watched the contraction monitors and the babies’ heart rates while I was pushing.  Elliott’s took a huge dip with every push but always came back up.  I was worried when I saw this, but the doc wasn’t so I assumed everything was okay.

At about 3:15 it was time to go to the operating room.  They wheeled me down there in the labor bed and transferred me to the operating table. I was expecting there to be a crowd in there, but there were just a couple of extra nurses.

This was it!  I knew it would be happening soon and that the pain would end shortly.  The epidural was great before, but wasn’t doing a thing at this point.  With every push I felt Elliott getting closer and closer to coming out.  There was a new nurse in the room yelling at me to push longer and harder.  At one point, the doctor said that he was giving me 15 minutes to push the baby out on my own before he was going to use the vacuum to help me out.  The contractions slowed down at this point which was really frustrating.  I had to wait and wait for them so that I could push!

I pushed and pushed and they could finally see Elliott’s head!  The nurse said, “Reach down and feel your baby’s head.” So I did! Holy crap! This was really happening!  I swear it felt like he was crowing for an eternity.  Before the final push, the nurse said, “When you push him out, you will finally have relief!”  Well, okay then! Let’s do this! I think the scream I let out when I finally pushed Elliott out could have woken the dead!  I felt his ginormous head pass through my body and the rest of him just slide right out.  It was the most amazing and surreal thing I have ever felt before.  Like I said before…. I had an epidural, but I pushed Elliott out all on my own.  There was no relief from that pain.  He cried shortly after he came out and he was absolutely perfect.

“I have to do this again?”  I had no idea how I was going to have the strength to push Oliver out.  The doctor told me that after Elliott came out, another doctor was going to help hold Oliver (from the outside) to make sure he didn’t do a little flip now that his brother was out and he didn’t have to share space anymore.  The doc then asked me if I wanted to push him down or let the contractions do the work.  I told him I wanted to let the contractions do the work because I was too tired.

He asked me if I wanted help getting him out and I don’t think I could have said, “YES” faster.  I just wanted him out healthy and safe…. And fast.  I pushed for about three contractions and with the help of the vacuum out came Oliver 13 minutes after his brother.  It didn’t hurt nearly as much because his big brother had already cleared the way for him.

I was filled with a sense of relief when the boys were finally out.  I was out of breath, sweaty, exhausted, and just so happy that they were out safe and sound.

Both of my boys were healthy and perfect in every way.  They let Brian cut the cord, cleaned them off, and I eventually got to hold them.  I was so in love with my little boys the moment I saw them.  Becoming a mom for the 3rd and 4th time was just as joyful as it was the 1st and 2nd time.

They helped me deliver the placenta and for some crazy reason I asked to see it.  The doctor showed it to me and explained that the placentas were fused together.

After the placenta was delivered I thought we were done and that we were going to get cleaned up and get the heck out of dodge.  Nope.  I was bleeding.  Crap.  Did my uterus rupture? Was I going to have to get an emergency hysterectomy? What the hell was going on??

The anesthesiologist gave me more pain meds in my epidural catheter and I was instantly out.  I was so tired that I just couldn’t stay awake anymore.  At the time I didn’t really know what was happening and Brian had to tell me about it later.  I recall waking up periodically, but that’s about it.

The doctor gave me cytotec (I think to get anything left in there out) and also had to investigate the bleeding.  I was told that it was “standard procedure” to manually check a previous C-section incision if a patient is bleeding after a VBAC.  The scar was intact (thank goodness) and the bleeding slowed down.  Brian said it was pretty scary and that everyone in that operating room was covered in my blood and bodily fluids.  The doctor later told me also that I kept waking up asking, “Are we done yet??”

After the bleeding stopped, the doctor sewed me up and I was taken back to the room where Brian and the boys would meet me.  I was shaking like crazy as the epidural wore off.

Twin VBAC, IVF

I’m sure there are many more details that I have forgotten, but I must say that it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life.  I have found out that there aren’t a lot of doctors that are comfortable with a VBAC with a singleton, let alone with twins.  I am so grateful to my doctor and his confidence that everything would be fine (and that if it wasn’t we would do a C-section) and that he had agreed to let me try the VBAC.

2 sets of twins, IVF

Mental Illness and Pregnancy

Mental Illness and Pregnancy

“I’ve debated telling this story. I’m afraid of being judged and perhaps even… yelled at.  But my story is just as important as yours. My story is the one that no one talks about. My story is about being pregnant with a mental illness.” -B 

My story starts a good 10 years ago, when I was officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. In a nut shell, Borderline Personality disorder is all encompassing. Its not usually diagnosed, and some psychiatrists don’t even believe its exists. It includes things like fear of abandonment, mistrust, harmful thoughts, and fast moving emotional thought process that I have no control over. I have very little control over what I think, do, and how I react to things emotionally. Medication makes things easier, but these things will always be a struggle for me. Anyways… 

At that time I had no future. The world was dark. No one cared and everyone else was a hypocrite. I had no future. And honestly it was only a matter of time, before the drugs, alcohol, and cutting caught up to me. Sooner or later… and I didn’t care that much. 

Then I met my husband. He held my hand and offered me a choice. Did I want to continue being miserable, angry and alone, or did I want the future he was offering me? With a career, and a home and maybe even a baby? I had always wanted a baby. If I wanted that, I had to start medication. That was my choice. I was tired of all of it, and I had nothing to loose, so I chose him.   

I was stable for 3 years. Properly medicated with regular therapy and we both felt it was time to have a baby. We wanted a baby and we knew it would be hard. We knew it would be hard because of my illness, but we decided as a team to take the risk. We wanted a baby boy. Maybe it was selfish to want something so badly, especially since I knew I would not be able to go off my medication. My psychiatrist assured me it was safe though, so we quadrupled my folic acid intake to counter act the medication I was already on. And within a few weeks I was pregnant! 

We were thrilled. Nervous, scared. We were parents. There was life growing inside me!!! 

This lasted all of 2 weeks. Then I got sick. 

Typical pregnancy symptoms I was told. They will pass, “you have life growing inside you”. Not so simple for someone like me. For the first 3 months, I was so nauseous I couldn’t eat. I lost 15lbs. Luckily I had enough to spare. Something as simple as not being able to eat was hard for my mind to accept. I cried often. 

The second trimester was worse. “Its ok, it’ll pass, its just part of being pregnant, you have life growing inside you!!” I had a migraine for 3 months straight. Nothing I did alleviated the pain. It only went away when I was sleeping and I wasn’t sleeping all that well either. I cried because I was in pain and tired. 

Please don’t misunderstand. Of course I had moments of elation. Every time he moved. Every time we listened to music together and he danced. We still dance! He amazed me. He was growing inside me and it truly is an amazing thing!  These moments gave me the strength to carry him longer then I wanted to. These moments were very special for me. 

The third trimester, although relieved by the fact that finally after 12 weeks my migraine had went away and I was able to eat again, now the depression kicked in. I hadn’t slept in God knows how long, I was miserable every single day, I ached everywhere I could hardly move. I cried every day because I felt so sick of life. My mental illness had taken over my thought processes, and more then once I threatened to cut my baby out of me! People thought it was funny for me to say that. “You have life growing inside of you. It’ll all be worth it in the end.” They all said. But I had never had a baby before, I didn’t know what they meant, and as far as I was concerned at that point, nothing was worth the pain I was feeling physically and emotionally. I was so unhappy and so depressed and my thought processes were so disturbed. I felt bad for how I was feeling because I knew my son could tell. Every time I cried he got quiet and I knew he knew how I felt about him. So I also felt ashamed. I should love my baby. I grew him and he’s special, but I didn’t. I didn’t even like him anymore! He had put me through a lot already and I was very angry at him.  

At 40 weeks 2 days I called my doctor and begged him to induce me. Once again stating that I was totally serious about cutting him out myself. He finally obliged  and I was scheduled for an induction the next day. I was so incredibly grateful! The induction worked and within a few hours I was in full labour! 

It hurt like a bitch but I was so happy to finally be in the final stretch of things. Morphine, epidural yes please!  

Time is a daze but I think I was in labour for about 14 hours before I started pushing. The nurse has mentioned that I could up the epidural so I did and by 9:00am I was ready to start pushing but I couldn’t feel anything so I did the best I could. 

My doctor showed up and tried to vacuum. It didn’t work, it fell off 3 times and baby wasn’t bugging. Finally he concluded that baby was stuck and we had to have an emergency c-section. Up until this point I was doing fine. My mood had elevated for obvious reasons and I was in the home stretch! This baby that had been tormenting me for 40 weeks would soon be out and maybe then we could start our relationship over.  

They said C-section and everything changed. Now I got scared. I turned to my husband and said, “can you call my parents?” Now I was crying, for the first time throughout the entire labour. I had prepared myself for everything except that. Everyone told me that I had the hips to birth a baby, but my baby was now stuck between them and was not coming out on his own.  

So they did the c-section and everything went smoothly. I was embarrassed because I was laying on the table completely naked and exposed. Nothing covered except my head, but I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I pushed it down like I had pushed all my feelings and emotions down for so long and just let them do what they had to do. 

They tugged and pulled and the anesthesiologist commented over and over again, “just a little bit more tugging.” I guess baby was really stuck. I felt my body move with each tug, but they eventually got him out and he cried and we were happy. I was so happy he was finally out! 

My husband held him for the first half hour while they stitched and stapled me up. My parents came right away because the C-section was a shock to them too. Apparently my mother was hysterical, “my baby is being cut open!!!”. So they held him too. I don’t remember if they held him before me. I wasn’t opposed to it. I guess I was happy. I was more relieved. 

The one thing I remember is how invasive the nurses were. They wanted to put me on Demerol so I would stop shaking because of course by this time my body had gone into shock. My OB said no right away (the one good thing about the entire experience) and just put me under a heated blanket. Within half hour my shaking had stopped. 

As the nurses cleaned me up, my body completely numb and still fat from pregnancy, one of them commented on my scars. I have about a dozen that are noticeable because of my mental illness and the first thing I thought was, didn’t you read my file?  Must I explain this to you? But I quickly did. Calmly. It was not what I needed to hear, nor was it something I wanted to explain at that precise moment. I mean I had just had a baby literally ripped from my body. Clean me up and keep your comments to yourself! 

newborn after cesarean

Well from here on in, nothing went right. I didn’t sleep for 4 day, because they insisted on having a bright night light on all night long. I was exhausted! Baby wasn’t eating and was unable to nurse because my milk refused to come in.  I looked and felt like shit and this baby would not stop crying! We supplemented. We had to. 

Because of all the drugs, my face broke out in cold sores. I’m prone to them to begin with, I get them quite seriously actually but this time, I had over a hundred! I had them in my eyes, on my cheeks, on my nose, my chin. The glands in my neck had swelled up so much I could hardly move my head, and since the herpes virus can actually kill newborns, I was restricted in how often I could hold my baby. Needless to say, we did not bond..

Now the depression hit a high. We were finally home, still not breastfeeding, or sleeping. I couldn’t move because of the surgery, he was crying because he was so hungry. I was crying because in my mind, I was a failure. I couldn’t birth my baby, I couldn’t feed my baby, I couldn’t even hold my baby. I said to my husband, “if your’e holding him, who’s holding me? ” And I meant it! I felt so incredibly alone and shameful. I thought often of just stuffing the baby in the freezer. Often. If it wasn’t the freezer it was the washing machine… Often. And that scared me.  In my screwed up mind, this baby was the cause of everything bad that had happened for the last 42 weeks of my life and if he just wasn’t here anymore… I felt horrible. What made me feel worse was the fact that I knew he knew exactly how I felt and it was obvious that he didn’t trust me.  

I still cried every day. It was a very difficult time for my husband. I put on a brave face for all the family that came to visit us, but as soon as we were alone everything fell apart…. 

So here’s where the story gets better.

We were sitting on the couch one night, just hanging out watching tv. He was 2 weeks old, and I just looked at him. This was the first time I had actually just looked at him. He looked back and I said, “there is something so familiar in your eyes.” As I looked harder, I realized he had my eyes. I was looking into a mirror! My heart melted. I said, “I guess you aren’t so bad…maybe this isn’t your fault.” And his glare did not faultier. “Can we start over?” And turned his head and started rooting, “You want to try just one more time?” So for the first time I nursed him.

He latched and he drank big gulps and he looked at me and I could tell that for the first time he forgave me. He understood and I promised him then that no matter what I thought, no matter what the voices told me to do I wouldn’t do them. He trusted me now and I couldn’t betray that. The thoughts haunt me on a daily basis even now but he trusts me and he loves me and he cuddles me and he forgave me and now he doesn’t even remember and as time goes by, the thoughts dwindle and they aren’t as strong. That night I fell in love with my son for the first time. He looks just me, so how couldn’t I love him.  

Some days for me are harder then others. My son is my reason now. My reason to stay strong, to take my medication and to go to therapy. He needs me  to do these things not only for myself but for him. Every time I look into his milk chocolate eyes, my eyes,  I’m reminded of where I was, where I could be and where I am now I’m more confident as a mom and more secure as a woman, and its all because of him. I’m so lucky. My husband has been incredibly supportive throughout this entire journey and I have him to thank as well. 

I still don’t know how I’m going to explain things to him as he gets older. Why I need to take medication, what the scars mean, why I get so angry sometimes or cry uncontrollably, and why I can’t control certain aspects of my emotions. I don’t know. But I figure I’ll just take every day as it comes. As a blessing. I grew him inside me. He’s mine and regardless of how I felt about him in the beginning, its not how I feel about him now. He’s the absolute love of my life and I tell him every single day. 

mother and son

pregnancy and mental illness

Three Breech Births {One Cesarean And Two VBACs}

Three Breech Births {One Cesarean And Two VBACs}

My breech babies: Brooke, Brady and Blake.

“The road to motherhood is not always a clear and simple journey. I learned this first hand as all of my babies presented breech. I do think more women should be given the choice with breech babies – it should be an option to birth vaginally. Where we live, midwife’s are not allowed to deliver breech babies so we did have to go to the hospital [for VBAC] but it was such a different experience from my first [a cesarean].” – Heidi

Brooke Elizabeth

Fall of 2006, I was so excited to be pregnant with our first child and like lots of moms-to-be I read all the pregnancy books on what to expect. I knew I wanted a natural birth but never once entertained the thought that things would not go the way I planned. My mom had 4 natural deliveries so I assumed that I would have similar birth experiences.

On the morning of February 26, 2007, I experienced a mild backache and found it difficult to sit at my desk at work. After struggling through the snowy trek of walking our dogs, and finishing my nightly routines, I could not sleep because of nagging discomfort in my lower back and decided to get into the tub around 7 p.m., which offered some relief. After my second bath, still not being able to sleep, and getting sick, I realized I was in labour!

We called our doula at 3 a.m.; contractions felt like Braxton Hicks1 but were not going away and I could not feel the baby moving anymore. To ease our worry, she suggested we head to the hospital to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Upon arriving at the hospital, around 6 a.m., I was confirmed I was 6-7cm and in full labour. I was shocked I had progressed so far. Then the nurse announced she felt feet rather than a head. As soon as the breech diagnosis was confirmed, things started happening really quickly. I felt like a bystander, and watched as I was prepped for an emergency cesarean section.

I was devastated. I asked through tears if baby would turn or if I could still deliver naturally. The obstetrician laughed; I had no choice – a cesarean section was my only option. I did not question these decisions that my caregivers made and never thought that I could advocate for a vaginal breech birth. It seemed like breech presentations meant babies could not be physically birthed naturally.

Instead of amazing memories of bringing a precious baby into the world, I will never forget feelings of utter powerlessness and disrespect. The environment did not lend itself to discussion about alternatives or my choices. I did not feel I could express myself or that I had an informed opinion. At first I thought I had failed myself and my baby—that I should have spoken up. Later I realized that even if I had the system would not have listened to me—unless I transformed myself into a screaming and angry woman, which is uncalled for. Non-informed consent and blind trust have been institutionalized for so long that no-one even notices this hospital culture. Now I see that my rights were utterly disregarded. I still cry when I think about it.

Brooke Elizabeth, 6lb 7oz, was named by her father after she was born. It felt amazing to finally meet my baby, but discouraging that I had to park myself outside the ICU in order to care for my healthy child, with good Apgar scores. I brought home a thriving, beautiful baby girl, yet her birth was one of the most painful and traumatic times of my life.

Brady James

Pregnant with my second, winter of 2008, I knew I wanted a completely different birth experience and chose the care of a midwife. I was still unsure of birthing at home, because I didn’t know anyone who had experienced a homebirth, yet this seemed like my only alternative outside of the hospital (birth centers do not accept women who have had previous cesareans, or VBACs—vaginal births after cesareans).

I had a wonderful pregnancy and felt nurtured under midwifery care. I was determined to have an unmedicated VBAC. I asked a lot more questions and educated myself about options. Approaching the time of birth, I felt happy, prepared, and informed.

During my 36-37 weeks prenatal visit, my midwife thought my baby was breech. Again! I could not believe it.

All I could think about was the possibility of being forced into another cesarean section.

I was devastated. I felt frustrated, angry and even resentful toward my baby. Why was this happening to me? I had come to terms with homebirth but, because midwives do not have the jurisdiction to perform breech births (despite the fact that they have the training to do them safely), the choice was being taken away from me. I felt angry and again disempowered.

I determined I could get my little one to turn. I learned about breech tilts, pulsatilla, chiropractic Webster Technique, Craniosacral therapy, walking on hands and knees, laying on an ironing board, even the use of ice packs and headphones on my belly. When all failed, I will never forget what my wise midwife told me, “You don’t always get the birth that you want but the birth that you need. You will just have to plan for the best breech birth possible!” It was with her support that we set out to prepare for a natural breech birth.

My midwife referred me to an obstetrician experienced with vaginal breech. Used to working with midwives, he said he was comfortable with vaginal breech and sharing my care with my midwife. I felt again like circumstances were out of my control, and was afraid of the unknown; it made all the difference to have my familiar and caring midwife with me. I was grateful that they had such a good working relationship, as I benefited from their collegiality.

On October 19, around 8 p.m., labour started as it had with my first, although 12 days after my due date! This time when I felt the dull ache in my back and it wouldn’t go away, I knew it was labour.

Our midwife arrived at our home around midnight and announced I was 5-6 cm dilated. We arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m. and I was 6-7 cm.

I was nervous, and unsure of what to expect, andI found it extremely frustrating when the hospital staff tried to deter me from my decision: pushing a detailed, scary, waiver in my face, pointing out risks involved in a breech delivery. I was told my obstetrician was working, but the staff quickly took over in their roles, and it felt as though they didn’t share the same values as my midwife, obstetrician, or me. Just like last time, the medical staff attempted to scare me into having a cesarean section. But they were not successful because this time I had done my research. I knew that in reality a vaginal breech birth with an experienced caregiver is as safe as a cesarean section, that mortality rates for women significantly increases with cesarean sections, and that cesarean sections increase the risks for subsequent pregnancies.

The dull backache was stronger and I found the hot water of the shower most effective. Since a breech VBAC is considered high risk, I was prepped for a cesarean in case things didn’t go as planned. The constant fetal monitor and IV did not allow me to move freely and were as annoying as the back labour.

By 5 a.m. I was 10 cm dilated. My water broke on its own and I was ready to push. It was exiting! I didn’t know what to expect and in the beginning was not pushing effectively: either because this was my first time pushing or my worries about how I sounded and looked inhibited my body from working as it needed to. There was extra staff in the room voicing their opinions which I found distracting, but was able to focus on my husband and midwife.

It wasn’t until I let go, my instincts taking over, that I felt me and my baby working together; I was squatting on the bed and groaning with all my inner being. I was working with my body allowing it to do what it needed to move my baby down.

As we neared the end of the 2 hr mark, my “time limit” for pushing as a VBAC, my midwife negotiated with the obstetrician to give us 30 min more as I was doing so well. It was close to his shift ending and, although he agreed, he brought in the obstetrician that would be taking over after his shift. As my birth history was reviewed the new obstetrician commented, “She’s already had a cesarean and this baby’s breech, perhaps there is something wrong with your pelvis and you cannot have a vaginal birth”.

I felt the need to prove her wrong. I touched my perineum and felt a little male part, my baby was right there presenting frank breech! I had gotten out of bed and the nurses told me, “Stop pushing. Get on the bed.” Our midwife ran to get our first obstetrician back into the room.

The minutes on my back were the most excruciating and uncomfortable I had ever felt. Eventually, I was told to push continuously without stopping; it is customary to push a breech baby within 7 minutes of seeing their body parts. My midwife was present, and my obstetrician helped deliver my baby. It was very intense, and amazing, holding my son on my chest . Brady James was born at 7:26 a.m., a healthy 8lb 1oz, on October 20, 2008.It was a very healing and empowering experience, and I am thankful for the support from my midwife and obstetrician.

breech vbac

I had nurses ask me the next day why I would try to deliver naturally when I knew the baby was breech. Having gone through both a cesarean section and natural breech delivery—I would take the breech delivery any day!

hospital vbac breech birth

Blake Carter

Fall of 2011, my third pregnancy, I was overjoyed and optimistic that I would get my home water birth.

As my first 2 babies were both breech, we were a lot more aware of the baby’s position. So when our baby was still head up at 33 and then 34 weeks, I started to worry..

For weeks we tried to turn the baby using moxibustion, hypnotherapy and acupuncture, to no avail. I tried to remain optimistic, telling myself baby would turn, and went to bed every night listening to the Hypnobabies script on turning breech babies.

Around 38 weeks I was exhausted—mentally and emotionally— with the realization that nothing was going to work. I was tired of defending my body, the shape of my uterus and my baby. My babies simply preferred to lay breech. I was frustrated and felt a deep sadness giving up my hopes for a home water birth. It felt unfair that some women didn’t appreciate their luck.

breech maternity

I knew I had been through a natural breech delivery before. My midwife reminded me that I could still have a natural breech delivery. Still I had a good cry. It was a real moment of release for me — releasing the negative feelings around what I was giving up. and it I felt as if a huge weight was lifted. I was then able to refocus on having a positive birth experience.

We planned for a natural birth with the same obstetrician that delivered our son. I was better able to communicate what I wanted for this birth— freedom to move. This translated into intermittent monitoring and a hep-lock. I saw both my midwife and obstetrician on a weekly basis.

breech belly

My due date came and went. I really relaxed and enjoyed my last days of pregnancy. It was a lovely state to be in.

This time Braxton Hicks were stronger. I thought I was in labour but then would wake, realizing I was still pregnant. Five days after my due date, contractions were not going away; it was noon. I made the kids lunch, contractions took my breath away. I called my husband at 1 p.m. unsure if it was active labour. When he got home 15 min later it was clear to him it was.

We called our midwife who said she would stop by around 3:30 p.m.. However, I felt really uncomfortable and hopped in the rental birth pool my husband prepared. As my body entered the water I instantly felt relief. I spiraled my hips and visualized this baby moving into a favourable birth position. It felt so good to be in the warm water. I felt in control, easily able to focus on my breathing and to visualize a peaceful and natural birth.

My husband could tell contractions were only a few minutes apart and called our midwife back. When she arrived, around 2:15 p.m., she confirmed that I was in labour and 8 cm dilated. We left for the hospital immediately and arrived by 3 p.m. I confided in my husband that I really did not want to leave the safety of our home and felt apprehensive about going to the hospital. As we checked in my labour completely stopped. I guess it is true your body needs to feel safe before giving birth!

Our obstetrician was in surgery and the resident on duty was very cheerful and suggested, ”Lets break your waters and get things going.” I relayed the information that had been discussed beforehand with my obstetrician—we wanted things to progress on their own naturally, with the hep-lock and intermittent fetal monitoring. I expected to be met with resistance however she was very pleasant. She explained their recommendation, but that it was ultimately our decision.

Now that I was at the hospital, had met the staff, who were on board with our wishes—I started to relax. I could again focus on my labour and meeting our baby. I started walking the halls, taking deep breaths in hopes this would bring the contractions back.

After a few minutes of walking, the contractions came back. I spent the next hour or so between sitting on my birth ball and having my husband rub my back and then in the shower/tub.

I heard the nurses discussing transferring me to the operating room to give birth. I tried not let it distract me but I yearned for the depth, space and privacy of our birth pool at home. It was now 6:30 p.m. . It felt like I was stuck at 9 cm and I was starting to feel an urgency for things to happen. Me and my midwife decided to take 30 min before considering breaking my waters.

A few minutes later my obstetrician came in; it was 6:45 p.m. and he was off duty at 7 p.m. He told us that he was going to stay but would not help deliver our baby if he was off duty. He broke my bag of water and relayed to the other obstetrician that I was still 9 cm dilated and he felt feet rather than a bottom. My baby was a footling breech! Within 10 min of breaking my water I was fully dilated and ready to push, it was 7 p.m.

I was apprehensive of experiencing pain being propped up on the bed, yet this time was different; I was better able to work with my body. With coaching from my midwife and nurse, and after only 17 min of pushing, I gave birth naturally to Blake Carter! I was supported by the obstetrician on duty and a resident as our obstetrician and midwife watched—it was an amazing experience!

breech vaginal birth

breech hospital vbac

The tone in the room was so positive and encouraging with this birth, as opposed to questioning why I would birth a baby breech, as with my second. The obstetrician and resident were great and genuinely interested in my well-being and in being involved with a natural breech delivery.

breech newborn

Having 3 breech babies, with very different birth stories, I have learned so much. With Brooke, I learned that things don’t always go the way we plan and sometimes things happen outside our control. With Brady, I confronted fears from my first birth; I realized that I could have a natural birth in the hospital. It was through Brady’s birth that I healed from my first. With Blake, I was grateful to experience a shift in the medical system in regards to attitudes toward the safety of vaginal breech births.

breech newborn photo

sleepy breech newborn

breech siblings

I hope that my personal birth experiences help to educate others about vaginal breech birth: that breech does not necessarily equal a cesarean; that women can ask for a second opinion or find a caregiver to assist in a natural birth; that women should feel empowered in their birth choices and experience and should trust in their inner strength and natural ability. Natural unmedicated vaginal breech births can be done and can be a wonderfully amazing and beautiful birth experience!

smiley breech newborn

More photos and a birth video can be found at Vanessa Brown Photography

Born Too Soon {A Story Of Loss and Life After Birthing Micro-Preemie Babies}

Born Too Soon {A Story Of Loss and Life After Birthing Micro-Preemie Babies}

[Trigger warning: This post contains loss]

A heartfelt thank you to Abby, for sharing your stories with us xxx

In 2008 I was thrilled that after 3 years I was finally pregnant. My excitement grew when I had my first ultrasound and found out I had twins, although it was also tainted with fear. I have a congenital heart condition and had gotten pregnant against the advice of medical professionals… How would my body cope with the strain of twins?

I was heavily monitored from about 16 weeks with frequent checks on my heart, the babies hearts and their general growth. All was going well until 19 weeks where I was then told I would be admitted to have a cervical stitch as my cervix was short, thin and funnelling. I was basically told if I didn’t have the stitch my babies would be born in the next week or so. Terrified I went to theatre and had a spinal block while they stitched my cervix closed. A few days later I was out of hospital and recovering nicely at home expecting that I still had a while to go before I’d meet my babies…

Only 4 weeks later I started cramping which turned into severe pain. At only 23wks I was in labour. No medication would stop the labour, but I managed to hold on til 24+2wks before my babies were born via c-section due to breech presentation. The c-section went really well – my beautiful firstborn son was brought into the world weighing a tiny 784gms, but showing signs of life. My son was taken over to a table to be worked on while Drs tried to get baby number 2 out. My 2nd son was transverse so after having a vertical incision in my uterus they finally got him out. Twin 2 was a tiny 767gms and he too was taken away to be worked on… We named our tiny miracles Taite and Seth.

Although I was awake I didn’t get to see my sons until some 3 hours later when  I was finally able to be taken to the nursery. Unfortunately I was only able to see Seth, as Taite’s room had a sterile procedure happening.. I was very anxious and upset, but was so amazed by this tiny little person that was mine.. I loved Seth instantly and couldn’t wait to meet Taite. It wasn’t until the next day I met my other tiny miracle… Instant love!! It was so hard only being able to touch my babies through the isolette.

[Taite on the day he was born]

micropremmie twin cesarean

[Seth day of birth]

micropremmie twin born 24 weeks

I stayed in the coronary care ward so they could monitor how my heart was coping with the stress of the birth. My heart was fine and I moved the maternity ward after only 2 days.

Being born at only 24wks, my sons had many medical problems. One thing was certain though, they had an amazing twin connection and did most things together. I watched my sons fight for life. Unfortunately they both had too much and they died peacefully together at 12 days old with their Mummy and Daddy. I was heartbroken and had no idea how I’d ever smile again…

[My first twin cuddle, the day they passed, 12 days old]

micropremature twins

[My babies at peace, 12 days old]

babies at peace, born at 24 weeks

2011 brought a reason to smile when saw those precious 2 lines appear. I was finally pregnant again after another 3 years. This time, there was only one baby and medical professionals discussed how this could change the outcome. After a few scares of bleeding in the first trimester, I then had a stitch placed at 14wks, things looked positive and I settled in for what I’d hoped was going to be a long pregnancy. 19wk scan showed another complication though, I had placenta previa.. I was terrified of birthing another premmy, but tried to relax and rest as much as possible. I had progesterone pessaries from 16wks and I knew that there was nothing else I could do to prevent another prem birth if that’s what was to happen. When I reached 24+2wks I breathed with relief.. I was still pregnant! Then it happened, at 25+3 wks I woke up soaked in blood..I went straight to hospital and was monitored. Bub was doing well and my bleeding slowed. The stitch was holding my cervix together nicely so I set my pregnancy goal for 28wks. Just 3 more weeks I begged bubba to stay in for.

It was only 2 days later when I had more haemorrhages and my contractions turned from Braxton hicks to the real thing. A blood transfusion was ordered for me and theatre was arranged. The Obstetricians didn’t want me to labour as I had a previous classical (vertical) incision with my last c section. All of a sudden I was screaming that I had to push. We were on our way to theatre but bub didn’t want to wait. My waters broke with a huge gush, nurses checked bubs presentation and told me to push this baby out. I was terrified. The baby’s father hadn’t arrived yet and I was on my own. I was so scared of having another premmy I didn’t want to do this.. Eventually I succumbed to the contractions and went with it. I pushed my perfect 3rd son into the world and got to hear his cry and touch him before he was taken away to be worked on. I named him Jett, he was my biggest baby at 874gms.

[The day of Jett’s birth: 25w 5d]

25 weeks premmie

Soon after I felt I had lost a large amount of blood. The Drs explained they couldn’t get the placenta out and I was bleeding. They gave me an epidural so they could take me to theatre. I lost more and more blood. I was taken into theatre. By this time I had bled so much my body lost all clotting capabilities and I was bleeding out fast. I was awake as I heard Drs discuss the urgency of the situation..They were trying to gain IV access but my blood pressure was so low they were having trouble. I was so scared, I begged them to knock me out. They didn’t have time, they had to gain IV access and try to get blood into me as fast as it was coming out. I asked if I was going to die they responded “We are doing all we can”…

3 hours later I was stable.. I had vaginal packing to prevent anymore haemorrhaging and 5 IV access lines. 1 in each arm, 1 in each groin and 1 in my foot. I had plenty of bruising and mental trauma. That afternoon I was finally taken to see my son. I don’t really remember much of it, I was still very unwell, but I know, just like with his brothers I fell instantly in love…

[First cuddle, 16 days old]

first cuddle with mum at 16 days old

Born at 25wks, Jett still faced many issues from being a prem. We were lucky this time though and after 157 days  (just over 5 months) I took my Earthside miracle home. He is now 19 months old and developing beautifully. He is small for his age and is moderately hearing impaired, but apart from that you would never know the trauma we went through to get him home… Jett is amazing  and I strongly believe that we are both alive today because we had our very own guardian angels Taite and Seth.

[First breastfeed at 135 days old]
first breastfeed 135 days old

[1st birthday – photo by atomicbutterfly photography]
micropremmie first birthday

[Still Boobing at 18 months!]breastfeeding 18 months old

Abby has also shared her complete journey on two blogs: www.taiteandseth.blogspot.com and www.mybabybutton.blogspot.com

A Journey to Conception {IVF, Twins, and a Naturally-Minded OB and Midwife Group}

A Journey to Conception {IVF, Twins, and a Naturally-Minded OB and Midwife Group}

When we decided to get married, we knew we wanted to wait a few years to begin having children.  Doug didn’t want to rush into things, and I wanted to accomplish a few goals and take time to enjoy life as a family of two.

We traveled to Germany, I completed my Masters Degree in Special Education, we hiked mountains with elevation over 14,000 feet, enjoyed weekends in the mountains, bought a house, celebrated with many friends as they began having children, I engulfed myself in teaching, my husband faced many ups and downs in his job, we taught ski lessons at National Sports Center for the Disabled, and generally lived an exciting and spontaneous lifestyle.

Meanwhile, around 2007, we decided it was time to begin trying to get pregnant.  After a year of trying, I started to become discouraged and wondered if it was time to see a fertility specialist.  Almost three years later, we still had not become pregnant and finally sought help.

We contacted the local fertility clinic that has a reputation as a world leader.  We were reluctant, but hopeful.  When we first walked into the clinic, I had a grateful attitude towards the people inside those doors who were going to help bring us closer to our goal of having children. The clinic ran some tests, and after the first of many very long waits, called us in to deliver our results.

Unfortunately, the office would not give us any information to help us prepare for our appointment. We walked blindly into the office, where the doctor delivered a devastating blow.  He informed us that we would not likely be able to have children without a $25,000 procedure called in vitro fertilization.  He made a crude joke about not needing to worry about unplanned pregnancy anymore.  We walked out of his office devastated.  Feeling completely lost, hopeless, sad, alone, and frustrated, we went home to gather our thoughts.

Ultimately, we had three choices: 1) Have no children 2) Pay $25,000 for an adoption or 3) Spend $25,000 for IVF which is known to have a 30-50% chance of working.  I made the executive decision that we would be having children, so we knew we were a long way away from having the money we would need, and that we had some difficult decisions to make.  Doug still wasn’t sold on adoption, and I really wanted to experience pregnancy, but IVF was a real financial risk. We were nervous about the possibility of a failed attempt.  So many thoughts flooded into our minds.  “What if this doesn’t work?”  “If we try IVF and it fails, we most likely won’t be able to afford another round of IVF or adoption.” “It is a very real possibility that we won’t ever reach our dreams of having children.”  We were in a very dark place in our lives.

We decided the next step was to find a new doctor for a second opinion.  His diagnosis was the same, and he agreed that IVF was most likely the only way we had a chance of becoming pregnant.  Instead of making sex jokes, his comment was ‘I’m confident this will work for you and I’m saving a place on my wall for a photo of your baby.’”

This was exactly what we needed to hear. The idea of having kids became a real possibility again.

After the appointment with the second doctor, Doug and I went to an adoption class, and he decided that he still wasn’t ready for adoption.  So, without much discussion, we decided to start saving for IVF. I had been desperately awaiting pregnancy for quite a long time.  I didn’t know how I would possibly wait any longer, but didn’t have a choice.  We put together a budget, limited our spending, and off we went. We would need to save a lot of money before beginning treatment.

It seemed that the decision was meant to be, as money seemed to just fall into our laps over the next months.  Doug received a nice bonus at work, I was able to have a payroll error corrected, and tax refunds were in our favor.

Waiting was agonizing, so to pass the time, I decided to tackle another life goal: running a marathon.  I began training in December 2010, with a goal of running the LA Marathon in March.

During the training and saving period, we kept in contact with the Reproductive Medicine office.  I had so many questions, and the nurse was so easy to reach and extremely helpful.  She was also a runner, so she also had running advice and tips for me through the training process.  Everything about working with the new doctor’s office was great.  The relationship with the nurse really helped through this difficult time.

I ran and completed the marathon in late March 2010. One month later, we began the IVF process.

Physically, the process wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t as bad as we feared.  Emotionally, however, it was far harder than we anticipated.  It seemed that every time we turned around, there was another roadblock that raised fear, doubt, and sadness.  In the beginning, I was actually excited to get started with the shots, because that meant being one step closer to the dream.

I should give a quick explanation of the IVF process here for anyone who doesn’t know how it works.  It’s an amazing process, just one that I wish no one ever had to endure.  Initially, you are put on birth control (cruel, right?!) and begin giving yourself shots to shut down your body’s natural ovulation process.  Next, you begin another shot to ramp up the body’s production of follicles (inside each is an egg). In a typical pregnancy, the body only releases one mature egg (from one follicle).  In IVF, the goal is to have the body produce just under 20 mature follicles. Throughout this phase of IVF, you go into the doctor’s office about every other day for a blood test and trans-vaginal ultrasound. The doctors use the numbers from the blood test and the information from the ultrasound to determine whether to change the medication dosage.  Once enough of the follicles reach maturity, you give yourself another shot that makes your body prepare to ovulate all the mature eggs.  Just before the eggs would naturally be released, they use what I have dubbed the “giant-ass needle” to retrieve the eggs from your ovaries.  This needle goes through your vagina and straight up into the ovaries.  Meanwhile, a sperm sample is collected, or prepared in the event of sperm donation.  Depending on the cause of the infertility, the eggs and sperm are either placed in a “dish” to find one another, or in some cases, the sperm are inserted into the eggs.  The embryos are then turned over to an embryologist for observation. Typically, most, but not all of the eggs retrieved will be fertilized. Each day, the embryologist will call to give an update of how many are still alive and dividing.  It is typical for several to stop dividing each day.  This goes on for 3-5 days.  The longer the better, but if the embryos are not doing well outside the body, they will move ahead at day 3.

The final process is the transfer of usually one to three embryos into the woman’s uterus.  The woman gives herself another round of shots to prepare her body for pregnancy.  Again, depending on how well the embryos are doing, the transfer will happen on day three or five after the retrieval.  They choose the best embryo(s) to transfer.    They use a tiny flexible tube and ultrasound to place the tiny embryos into the uterus.  If there are any embryos still alive and dividing the following day, they will be frozen and stored and can then be used for another attempt later on.  After the transfer, you just wait…and wait…and wait for a pregnancy test that happens two weeks post-transfer.

So, with that knowledge, I will return you to my story.

Throughout the process, I had to go to the doctor several times for blood tests to determine the effectiveness of the medication.  The first major roadblock came when the results revealed that my body wasn’t responding as quickly as they hoped to the dose, and the round might need to be cancelled.  When you have come so far and gone through so much just to get to this point, the news is devastating, not to mention my hormones were all sky high from the medications.

With an adjustment in medication, things began to respond, and we were back on track, and just a few days behind schedule.  This is not a big deal, but in the moment, and after waiting so long, it was heartbreaking. We continued as planned, and eventually came time for retrieval.  This went great, and we had a large number of eggs to work with.  Even better news was that the next day, all but one was alive and beginning to divide.  The next two days saw a positive report each day.  Only two more stopped dividing by day 4.  On day 5, we went in for the big transfer.  We had decided to transfer 2 embryos, no matter what.  Although the doctors were very clear that the goal was to have only one baby, our goal was to have twins. As I was being prepared for the procedure, the embryologist came in and said, “I have good news and bad news.”  We couldn’t imagine what the bad news could be.  Just yesterday they assured us we would easily have 2 embryos to transfer and probably 6-7 to freeze.  “The good news is you have one perfect embryo,” said the embryologist.  “The bad news is that there is only one other even worth transferring.  The rest aren’t doing well.”

We had really mixed emotions.  We were excited to finally have arrived at this moment.  We were devastated, yet again, that there would not be any left to freeze.  All along, we kept reassuring ourselves that it would be OK if the first round didn’t take, as long as we had several left to freeze.  Our safety net was ripped right out from under us, but without anything we could do about it, we carried on.  Through the entire journey we just kept carrying on.  They sent us home with advice to rest and take it a little bit easy over the next two weeks – that and return on May 5, 2011 for our pregnancy test.

The next two weeks went surprisingly fast, and of course had both ups and downs.  Most of the time, I didn’t feel a thing, but one day I had two strong twinges in my abdomen.   This was extremely exciting, as it was possible that I was feeling the embryos attach to the uterine wall.  Several days later, I had a migraine which sent me spiraling into a deep dark despair.  See, each month for three years, having a migraine was a sign that I was not pregnant.  A migraine always proceeded my period by three days. By having this migraine, I was certain that she was not pregnant.  Three days later, May 5th arrived.

Knowing how anxious we would be waiting for the pregnancy test results, we had taken the day off work to await the news. We had been told we would get the results by the end of the business day, so we were surprised to get a call from our nurse at 9 a.m.  I, afraid to hear the news, made small talk and asked her how she was doing.  Politely, she replied that she was doing well, and asked me how I was doing.  I replied, “I don’t know, you tell me.”

On the other end of the receiver, I heard her voice deliver the incredible news: “Well, you’re pregnant!”

Despite the odds, we were pregnant!!

 I just broke down.  Doug was crying, too. I can’t describe how I felt.  I cried and cried tears of joy

Although Colleen, our nurse, was ready with information to prepare us for pregnancy, we were unable to comprehend anything more.  I asked her to call back in a little while once I had calmed down.

jamie's IVF story

The moment we heard Colleen deliver the news will go down as one of the happiest moments of our lives.  From that day on, the process got better and better.  Four weeks later we found out we were having twins! Eight weeks after that we found out we were having a boy and a girl.  Each appointment after that we were able to see that they were healthy and very active.  After a long road with so many roadblocks, detours, pitfalls, and devastations, it was amazing have smooth sailing and positive news the rest of the journey.  The pregnancy was difficult for me, but the babies did great the entire time.

We were working with a combination of midwives and an OB, since we were having twins.  We had planned to birth our baby at an independent birthing center with only a midwife, but that was not possible once we found out we were having twins.  The nice thing about working with an OB who routinely works with midwives is that he is open to a more natural approach.  At 38 weeks, when they would typically induce twins, our babies still had not arrived.  He allowed us to wait another week.  Also, despite having a marginal placenta previa, he was willing to let me attempt a vaginal delivery. By the time we were almost to 39 weeks, it became clear that it was no longer in my or the babies best interest to continue the pregnancy.  Our goal was to slowly induce, but ended up that didn’t work.  We had to start with a cervical ripener, which did nothing in terms of kick-starting labor.  As my pre-eclampsia set in, we veered farther from my birth plan by starting Pitocin.  Ultimately I ended up having an emergency c-section because of bleeding from the previa.

All in all, my babies arrived, and that is all that mattered in the end.  I was sad about loosing my dream birth, and I had to grieve it.  Ultimately, however, I believe we only did interventions that were medically necessary, and am happy with the outcome.  My long-shot dream had come true.  We had not only one baby, but two!

The process of IVF and infertility in general is excruciating.  My lasting wish is that people understand that.  I want the general public to understand that by asking if twins are “natural” they are asking a deeply personal question that often brings up trauma and grief.  Thanks for taking the time to understand this process and my journey.

IVF story

Infertility, Loss, Cesarean Birth, and PPD {A Mother’s Story of Two Births}

Infertility, Loss, Cesarean Birth, and PPD {A Mother’s Story of Two Births}

{Editor’s Note: This story comes to us from Rachel. This is the story of infertility, loss, and two Cesarean births – one which was not empowering, and a second that was positive and healing. This is also the story of two experiences with Postpartum Depression and the effects on bonding and motherhood.}

My story starts almost five years ago, it was our wedding day and after a few months of me trying to convince my husband, Pat, we were ready to start trying to have children, he finally agreed. We lived in the small northern town of Wawa, Ontario. It is a beautiful place, a wonderful place to raise a child.

My husband was starting out his career as a police officer and I was working at a daycare. Things couldn’t be better. We tried for approximately 6 months and nothing happened. We did not have a family doctor there, so discussing any fertility issues just didn’t happen.

Pat was given the opportunity to join the Police Force in another town in Jan 2008, so we embarked on our new journey. Although Pat is originally from this town, we were restarting our life in this new town. I was more than happy to move where he grew up, where his family is.

We continued to try, but nothing. After being referred to a specialist, Pat and I both did various blood work and tests. Tests revealed that I suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which could sometimes lead to infertility. I was crushed. I wanted to be a mother. How could I explain this to my husband? I would not be able to give him any children; all he ever wanted was to have children, to be a dad.

After talking with the Ob/GYN he had given me a prescription for Clomid, a fertility drug known to help women with PCOS. After taking it the first month and going for more blood work, the doctor was optimistic that this would work!

Fast forward three more months, I found myself pregnant. It was a few days before Valentine’s Day in 2009. So I figured I would wait to tell my husband; I bought a bib that said “I love daddy”, some little booties, a rattle and left a positive pregnancy test in a box. My husband has never liked early gifts, but I just couldn’t wait! I told him that he needed it the day before and that it was so important.

When he opened the box he had the most confused look on his face, he did not know what a pregnancy test looked like and didn’t realize what I was giving him until I said I was pregnant. We both shared tears and we so thrilled to finally have this happen for us after trying for 2 years.

I had some morning sickness, just nausea really. I was excited because if you felt nauseous that was a good sign. I had an early ultrasound to date the pregnancy; it was so amazing to see the little life inside me, the heartbeat of this new being that my husband and I created! I was helping this little baby grow. We told everyone, we were so ecstatic to finally have the chance to be parents! Everyone was very so happy.

I was about 11 weeks and had very, very lite spotting and no other symptoms. I called my midwife Amy and told her and she said she would be right over to see if we could hear a heartbeat although it was still early. I told her it was okay and that I would see if it continues, I really didn’t think that anything was happening.

I had no other symptoms of miscarriage, and this couldn’t happen to me! That night I started to have back pain and some mild cramping, I finally told my husband, who tends to be a worry wart. He immediately told me to go to emergency room. I did reluctantly; something like this was not going to happen to us.

They did some blood work and a pregnancy test and told me they would call me as soon as a spot opened up for an ultrasound. I went to work that morning, told my boss that I would need a couple hours off but I would be back after my ultrasound. She insisted I take the day off, I was kind of mad because I didn’t want to miss work. I was fine… I really was sure nothing was happening.

Going to the ultrasound I felt fine, the spotting and back pain were very little. Then the ultrasound tech told me I was not allowed to see anything. That’s when I got nervous. I then had to go and wait again to get my results.

I called my husband to let him know that I was waiting; he asked if I wanted him there, I said no that I was fine. Everything was fine, he had just finished a night shift and he hadn’t had any sleep and was supposed to work that night. He showed up five minutes later! I am so thankful he did!

We waited in the little room; the doctor came in with the report and had to leave but left the report. I looked at it and couldn’t understand a thing. As I am looking at it the doctor walked back in and asked if I understood anything. Of course I didn’t, the page was all these numbers and abbreviations, we sat down and he just came out and said there was no heartbeat.

We were crushed. We saw the heartbeat before; how could it no longer be there? Why would this happen to us? We both grieved at the loss of our unborn baby; we went from being on top of the world to the bottom of a muddy pit.

Of course I saw the specialist again and he just said sometimes these things happen. (These things weren’t supposed to happen to me.) I started Clomid again as soon as I could, I needed to be pregnant again. The month came and went and no pregnancy… I couldn’t do this. You are always let down every time you start your period and you are reminded that you lost that baby.

I took the Clomid another month and told my husband that if I did not get pregnant this month I didn’t want to try again. It was too hard. When the time came for my period; it wasn’t there… I reluctantly took a pregnancy test. I was pregnant!

I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband… I wasn’t sure if it was worth telling my husband. I couldn’t carry a child, so why bother him with the grief if we lost another? I would do it alone. He came home that night and I felt extremely guilty but did not tell him. I couldn’t keep it in after 3 days I just sat beside him and showed him a pregnancy test.

I didn’t say a thing, we hugged, and I think we both felt the same way, happy but very scared. We kept this pregnancy a secret from everyone until I was 4 months. Everyone was overjoyed. We were terrified that something was going to happen, that this baby would be taken away from us.

The pregnancy was great, no complications, everything was wonderful. At the end of my pregnancy, all I wanted was to hold my baby. I felt like a whale, like I couldn’t possibly grow any larger. At 40weeks 4days I went to see a naturopath to have acupuncture to try to induce labor, I was fed up!

The day went on and at some point my water broke. At first I was in denial, but was getting contractions every 5-8 minutes. We went to the hospital because I was Group B Step positive and needed antibiotics during labor.

Contractions continued every 3-4 minutes for 12 hours. My midwife Amy checked my cervix, I was only 1cm. I was devastated, I couldn’t possibly go any longer. The pain was intense and my hopes of having a natural labor were gone. I requested an epidural.

At this point my labor had stalled and I was having some relief. Once the anesthesiologist came and left I finally felt great. I tried to rest a bit knowing I had a long time to go but then the pains started again. My epidural was not working or strong enough but I continued to pull through, breathing through each contraction focusing on what was to come, my little baby!

Contractions continued for another 14 hours, Amy and Pat right by my side the whole time. After being there with me for 26 hours Amy had to transfer my care to the on-call OB. As soon as she told me this, I asked for a C-section. I couldn’t possibly go on without her and I was physically exhausted, emotionally exhausted, and disappointed.

At this point everything becomes fuzzy. I had given up and laid there in the hospital bed waiting to be rolled into the OR. When they pulled my little boy out of me I was so drowsy, I just remember them saying it’s a boy, and then he was gone and I went to recovery.

I was in recovery for a while and when I was allowed to go into my own room to see Maksim he was tired and didn’t want to nurse. I was feeling sick, tired and sore, so he went to the nursery. My husband kissed me goodnight and that was it.

In Recovery

Maksim was brought to me in the morning and I looked at him like he was a stranger. Who was this child and what was I supposed to do with him? As time went on I developed postpartum depression.

I truly believe that it was because I didn’t have a natural birth and was ripped of the opportunity to bond with him right after having him. All I wanted was to be able to nurse him, knowing that this was the best I could give him.

With the PPD, I had given up on breastfeeding and pumped instead. I thought that this would help but it didn’t, I felt like I wasn’t able to bond with my baby. I pumped for 5-6 months and quit. I still feel bad to this day for doing this but am grateful for the breast milk he did receive.

There were many days I just did not want to be a mother. I never felt the urge to hurt my child but I didn’t want to be around him. I wanted my old life back; I wanted someone else to take care of him. I saw a counselor and this helped a bit, I went back to work and things seemed to look up.

Maksim was almost a year old and my husband mentioned wanting to try for another. At that time I only wanted another baby to experience a vaginal birth, to nurse my child and to be a mom. Again I needed to go on fertility drugs as my cycle was not regular and I was not ovulating. After two months of the Clomid I was pregnant.

I called my husband right away, he was training and couldn’t come home so I told him over the phone. You could hear the happiness in his voice. This time we waited about a week and started to tell close family and friends, then really made it known to everyone at 12 weeks.

I still wasn’t sure about wanting another but the pregnancy was here I just went with it. This pregnancy was so different, I had a lot of morning sickness that lasted all day, at 14 weeks I had unexplained bleeding. We had emergency ultrasounds but all seemed okay.

At 20 weeks the baby was showing two cysts on his brain. This really worried us; we didn’t want to have something wrong with the baby. At 30 weeks the ultrasound tech said he was a really big boy and that the cysts were gone! We were thrilled.

At 40weeks my water broke, I did not have any contractions. My sister and I went shopping as I continued to leak fluid all day! I walked and walked and walked and still did not get any contractions. The OB did not want to induce because of my prior C-section, I should have fought for it but for some reason I didn’t.

After 24 hours of ruptured membranes I was given another Cesarean. This was different! My midwife Amy was in the room with me, she let my husband hold the baby close to me right after he was taken out, I saw him for some time before they took him away.

I wasn’t in recovery long this time and my little Felix – 7lbs 6oz – was brought to me as soon as I entered my room. I was able to have skin to skin time with him and he (with help from Amy) latched on no problem. My doula, Kayleigh was there to capture those moments and to assist with breastfeeding when Amy left.

Baby Felix

What a different experience! What a positive experience. I healed so much faster and was so happy to be a mom. Now fast forward three months – I still long for that vaginal birth, but feel very blessed to have two healthy and happy children.

Having a positive birth experience the second time around has made me love being a mother and appreciate the little things so much more. That first smile, those 3am feedings and when your toddler says “Je t’aime maman” – you couldn’t ask for more!

{An update from Mom: “My little one is now 15 months, I got PPD again but I am on top of it this time and am happy to report that my little one just weaned himself…. Nursing really helped the PPD and this time was easier because I could recognize the signs and asked for help right away.”}

The Family

A Letter To Our Child {An IVF Journey 2006 To 2013}

A Letter To Our Child {An IVF Journey 2006 To 2013}

“We shared our trying to conceive journey through Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) at City IVF and love the team. And after 6 cycles, 5 stims, and a 10 week scare, our dream came true. We had spotting to full on bleeds and this little girl hung on tight to her Mum for which I will be forever grateful! I hope my history/story/journey gives someone the hope the need it really makes me believe magic does happen and miracles are real.” – Linda, of Family Capers

This is our journey little one, one we are sharing together  – you, mummy and daddy – as we help you make your way into this world. We love you and know that you will make it to us in time. This is a journey that just us can share.

[As an embryo – you were the strong one]

IVF embryos ready for transfer

So where did it all start my darling?

Well we knew quite early that you would be conceived by IVF for a number of reasons.

For me I always knew that assisted conception maybe on the card for me after ovarian cysts and emergency surgery at 19. Then I met the love of my life my darling husband your father and the fate was sealed for us as he had a vasectomy much earlier in life for his own reasons.

So in 2005 with our dreams of the white picket fence and family Daddy and I were married and committed ourselves to the IVF journey.

This is when my research started I read everything I could find on the web started talking to GP’s about our journey. The hardest part is that we had to wait 12 months until our Private Health insurance would cover us for our IVF procedures. So we planned our wedding were happily married and moved to Qld to start our new life as a family.

Our first step in this IVF journey for you was in 2006 and I was hopeful and maybe I was naive. I went through every day of injections and planning with excitement and fear that you our baby was on its way. For me it had been a long wait for the 12 months to pass and I was excited and happy to meet you.

My first appointment is a bit of a haze I remember them telling me I was young and that falling pregnant should not be a problem for me so again up when the excitement this should be easy one try for me and our baby will be here I will be pregnant for our first wedding anniversary! Off I skipped to the chemist with my script for the pill (we were doing a down reg cycle) and looked forward to the day I could take pill number 1.

The day came and I started my pill excited to take them and happy I started to buy baby books to assist in my journey my thirst for knowledge on pregnancy was to others a little unnerving I suppose. I read and wrote to myself excited about the journey the you and I was about to take. Then Syernal day came this is the drug I like to call the morning sickiness stimulator, for me the side effects were nauesa and headaches. But this was all worth it as my baby is on its way.

Injections were next and that was when I felt your energy in the embryos growing inside me swollen and tender my tummy became round and cute as if I was a few months pregnant and we were on our way to egg pick up.

The egg pick up came and we got 12 healthy eggs which became 6 embryos and I could feel your energy as they transferred 1 embryo back. Time passed and we waited the two weeks but you were not going to be rushed…

Our ICSI and Pregnancy Journey, 2006-2009:
July 06 – First Fertility Specialist (FS) Visit
Sept 06- First Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) and embryo transfer (ET)… big fat negative (BFN) – 5 embies to frozen
Nov 06 – Cancelled frozen embryo transfer (FET) – none survived the thaw (heartache and not knowing why)
Jan 07 – FS put me back on the pill bleed for 6 weeks due for ET in March but decided to change FS
Mar 07 – Visit with Dr Das he and his team are excellent
April 07 – Full ERT and ET – 1 embie and transferred
July 07 – Feng Shui specialist prepped house for baby started alternative hunt for symbols and rituals
Aug 07 – Planning visit moved to 12th September
Sept 07 – 12th September planning visit for October Cycle and Baby
Oct 07 – Early miscarriage at 5 weeks (disappointing, but 1 step closer)
March 08 – Laparoscopy: endometriosis found and gone, now we have answers
April/May – BFN Stim Cycle – No Embies Left
June – Started the Pill for July cycle
July – Operation Make Dear Husband a Daddy Success!!!! Big Fat Positive!!
12th September 08 – Baby Tigger gave us a major scare!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But just a major clot.
16th September – meeting with FS and bubs was there! Yay!!!!
17th November – 20 Week Scan… we are expecting a Girl
15th Jan – 1 Hour GTT is 8.1… 2 hour test here we come
17th Jan – Midwife visit and she is moving very well, just likes a weird position!!!
19th Jan 09 – GTT is neg
9th Feb – Booked C/S for the 31st March
31st March 2009 – Miss Charlotte Arrives!

birth after infertility

And now … 2013 … When you know enough is enough …

A few weeks ago Hubby and I decided that we were not jumping on the IVF wagon again. After 3 years of hoping to TTC again I was in a position I was not expecting, I had more reasons to say enough is enough rather than to try again.

I have an amazing girl who I love to share all my spare time with, and 2 businesses that are growing at a rapid rate. I am full. I knew I was content, and enough was enough.

I did however grieve the loss of hope and of my TTC journey and dreams. And I can say I am still getting over it, but a lot stronger, wiser and healthier for the decision to be happy with my family of 3.


family and IVF baby

Unwatermarked photo by Kate Deagan of Studio K8

 

 

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