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Category: I Am Strong Because…

I Am Strong – Enduring 30-Plus Hours of Full Blown Labor

I Am Strong – Enduring 30-Plus Hours of Full Blown Labor

I am strong because when I was in labor, I was in back labor for nine hours and wasn’t progressing so I had to go home.

I am strong because after laboring another 10 hours at home I went to the doctor to get checked and was in full blown labor but only dilated to 3 cm.

I am strong because I did not want an epidural, but more than that, I didn’t want a c-section so I got the epidural to help my body relax and dilate better.

I am strong because I had been up over 24 hours in labor and got the epidural, but because everything was going wrong and they were checking on me every 30 minutes, I never slept.

I am strong because after laboring a full day I wasn’t past 6 cm and had to receive pitocin, which was not in my birth plan.

I am strong because when my temperature spiked, I was given on a nonrebreather face mask to help with my babies decelerations and managed to stay calm.

I am strong because my epidural stopped working when it became time to push at 30+ plus hours, and I had all back labor with the baby posterior.

I am strong because I pushed for three hours to avoid putting my baby through a c-section.

I am strong because I still have sad feelings about getting an epidural and pitocin but look at my healthy baby I know it was all for her.

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I Am Strong {SPD and Gallbladder}

I Am Strong {SPD and Gallbladder}

I am strong because I started developing an unexplainable pain in my legs when I was only six weeks pregnant with my first child.

I am strong because I had to go through two doctors, two chiropractors, and twelve weeks of increasing pain before a chiropractor identified the area causing problems (my pubic symphysis) and I found the actual diagnosis online (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction).

I am strong because my SPD progressed beyond the “normal” range for pregnancy. At nearly 31 weeks pregnant my midwife sent me to an OB to make sure that my condition wouldn’t cause me to risk out of a birth center birth. After a quick exam the OB said my pubic bones had separated more than 9mm which meant I no longer had SPD. I had Diastasis Pubis Dysfunction, the most severe form of the condition. This was one day after my 35th birthday – happy birthday to me.

I am strong because I was rushed to the hospital in excruciating pain at 36 weeks pregnant with what turned out to be gallstone induced pancreatitis.

I am strong because I lived on IV fluids and no food for four days while my pancreatitis was being treated.

I am strong because I ate a drastically different diet for the remainder of my pregnancy and my first 11 days postpartum in order to keep the pancreatitis at bay.

I am strong because I had to try six different chiropractors before I finally found one that could even remotely ease my pain (seventh time’s a charm) when I was 37 weeks pregnant.

I am strong because at 38 weeks and 5 days I birthed my beautiful and amazing daughter naturally in the water at a birth center with her holding her hand against her head. This turned out to be extremely lucky since she’d managed to wrap the umbilical cord around her neck and arm four times. (My birth story is on my baby blog.)

unnamed

birth without fear

I am strong because at 11 days postpartum I collapsed on my bedroom floor when I was hit with a rush of pain as the pancreatitis returned.

I am strong because the very first time I was ever separated from my daughter was when the paramedics rushed me back to the hospital in an ambulance.

I am strong because I went two more days on IV fluids and no food and, after continuously and unsuccessfully begging the doctors to switch me to medication that was safe for me to be on while breast feeding, I resorted to pumping and dumping while my daughter, thankfully, thrived on donor milk.

I am strong because I insisted that the hospital allow my husband and daughter to live with me in the hospital for four days.

I am strong because I had my gallbladder removed at 14 days postpartum.

I am strong because I helped my daughter return to the boob as soon as the medication was out of my system, a day after surgery, and though she was born nine days early, five days before I was scheduled to attend a breast feeding class, and I didn’t know what I was doing and had to see three different lactation consultants before we could nurse without pain, my daughter has been breastfed since birth and only received formula once while getting over jaundice and twice in the short time when we were waiting for donor milk to arrive.

I am strong because I, with the loving support of my husband, my family, my friends, and my birth center family, survived several painful conditions during my pregnancy and have no plans to let that stop me from having another child… naturally and in the water.

i am strong, birth without fear

Submitted by Kassondra.
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I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I am strong because three months after my husband and I got married, we found out we were pregnant, and at 12 weeks, we lost the baby.

I am strong because after three months of waiting to try again, we found out we were pregnant for the second time, but at six weeks, I miscarried again.

I am strong because that very next month, I got pregnant for the third time. My doctor put me on progesterone supplements to help prevent another miscarriage, and soon we had a healthy, growing baby.

I am strong because on New Year’s Eve, I went in to be induced, and after only a few hours, my doctor told me I needed a c-section. She said my pelvis was too small and that I would never be able to give birth vaginally. Not knowing much about birth at all, and being totally unprepared, I had a c-section, and our beautiful son was born a few hours before midnight.

I am strong because even though I was in excruciating pain from the surgery, I continued to breastfeed my son and refused to give him formula.

I am strong because at 2 weeks old, my son’s pediatrician said that he was too small and told me to start supplementing with formula. Not knowing much, and being a scared first time mom, I listened.

I am strong because even though I supplemented, I kept nursing as much as I could. I started researching everything I could about breastfeeding and how to up my supply. I bought an SNS to help wean him off formula so that he could nurse exclusively again. I was prescribed medication to help increase my supply.

I am strong because when my son was a month old, I developed double mastitis, was put on antibiotics and was in so much pain, but I still continued to nurse.

I am strong because twice a week, I had to take my son to the pediatrician to have weight checks, and every time, I just heard about how small he was, until finally, his pediatrician said that my milk wasn’t good enough, didn’t have enough calories, and that I needed to stop nursing. Without running any tests, she decided that my milk wasn’t suitable for him.

I am strong because I went home that day and refused to stop nursing. I knew my son was fine and that he was growing like he should. I started looking for new pediatricians who would be supportive of my desire to nurse.

I am strong because when my son was 2 months old, I found a new pediatrician and canceled my appointment with the previous pediatrician.

I am strong because the next day, Child Protective Services came to my house and took my 2 month old away from me. I could do nothing but watch them take my baby. They said that we were an immediate danger to our son and that we were neglecting him because he was so small.

I am strong because CPS never told us where they were taking our son. We found out later that night that he was admitted to a hospital, but we weren’t allowed to know which one, or if he was okay.

I am strong because over 24 hours after they took our son, they called and told us to come to the hospital where he was, and that they had kept him overnight to run tests on him. They found nothing wrong, and encouraged me to keep nursing. They said that the previous pediatrician had called and said that we were starving our son, and that he was in danger with us. The hospital said that they would be reporting the pediatrician for lying to CPS and causing us so much distress.

I am strong because the hospital offered to test my milk and they found that I was producing an average of 60 calories per ounce! Way above average! I continued to nurse my son, and used donor milk from a friend to eventually wean him off formula.

I am strong because when my son was 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. Another boy!

I am strong because at my first prenatal appointment, my OB told me to not even consider a VBAC because I would never be able to do one, I was “too small.” She encouraged me to schedule my repeat c-section that day.

I am strong because shortly after I found out I was pregnant, my husband got orders to move to South Korea. We decided to move there with him and I would give birth there.

I am strong because even though my milk had almost dried up from being pregnant, I continued to nurse until my son’s 1st birthday!

I am strong because I started researching VBACs. I got my operation report from my previous OB and learned that the c-section was unnecessary, and that I COULD give birth vaginally if I wanted to! I immediately told my new OB that I wanted to try. I hired a birth doula to help me through the process.

I am strong because at 41 weeks, my doctor said that he had to induce me (per hospital policy) or give me a repeat c-section. Because this was the only military hospital in Korea, I didn’t have a lot of options. I chose the induction.

I am strong because even though I was in immense pain from the pitocin, I went eight hours without any pain medication. six hours later, I gave birth via successful VBAC to my second son!

I am strong because in the birth canal, he had swallowed meconium, and I wasn’t able to hold him until he was over 45 minutes old.

I am strong because I still haven’t been the first to hold either of my babies.

I am strong because my second son has never had anything but MY breastmilk! He is now 16 months old and still nurses four times a day, and yes, he is just as small. We just have small babies!

I am strong because I knew my mothering instincts were right and I protected my right to nurse, and my right to have the birth I wanted, even when I was told I’d never give birth that way.

I am strong because I was so inspired by my birth and my experiences, that I decided to become a labor Doula and am planning my next birth (not pregnant yet!) to be at a birthing center.

I am strong because even though I have never shared this story publicly, I am ready to help someone else out through my experiences.

I am strong because it has taken me years to trust people and doctor’s, but I am slowly starting to trust my children with other people, and to have faith in doctor’s again. I am slowly letting go of the past and looking to the future.

I am strong because I am FREE.

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Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

I am Strong because I waited until the age of 32 to have my first child.

I am Strong because I saw our would-be son one day looking up at me holding onto the knee of the man who became the love of my life at the age of 28. Dream became Reality.

I am Strong because as the youngest of my home growing up, and the youngest in our family’s generation, I was not around young children much, so everything was new and exciting/frightening.

I am Strong because my husband made it home from his last deployment for the Army in 2010, and we made the happy decision to try and start a family.

I am Strong because five weeks into trying, the hubby and I went to the ER due to me having severe abdominal cramps. We found out after eight hours of waiting that we were less than 48 hours pregnant and in danger of losing the baby.

I am Strong because we also made the decision to do what it took to have me become a Stay-At-Home Mom; the call and eventual resignation from being in Property Management for almost a decade was bitter and sweet.

I am Strong because my pregnancy was filled with obstacles and unknowns, from start to finish.

I am Strong because our pregnancy took, and I was able to carry full term.

I am Strong because when we moved from Texas to Virginia, our insurance was suspended due to an employee’s typo, and we were forced to go without insurance for over 4.5 months of the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we had to ask a local 4D ultrasound locale for a session to find out how many and what we were having during the middle of the insurance nightmare.

I am Strong because our sweet baby boy blew a kiss to us on the ultrasound, one of at least three prior dreams that have become reality. (The DVD shows this amazing gift)

I am Strong because the pregnancy was high-risk from start to finish.

I am Strong because the natural hormonal surges that occur in pregnancy were so great that my hip and shoulder joints were prone to dislocation, making it hard to walk, sit, lift anything, or be comfortable.

I am Strong because despite all my efforts to consume the healthiest of things – the only true craving I ever had was for beer, not a winning scenario as it went unsatisfied – I gained over 50 pounds during the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we made a birth plan, but due to complications with my joints, had to settle for induction/possible csection as a backup.

I am Strong because at 41 weeks, I began having contractions. They lasted an entire week, but to no avail as I did not dilate.

I am Strong because we went into the hospital to be induced, only to have the first induction fail.

I am Strong because after the second induction was administered, my joints could no longer handle the hormonal surge and my right hip dislocated, causing me excruciating pain.

I am Strong because I was scared to death of having an epidural but made the decision to do so as my cervix was still not cooperative.

I am Strong because I had two extremely intense contractions during the administering of the epidural, but managed to stay still enough with the help of my husband so as to not incur any nerve damage.

I am Strong because the only progress the epidural produced was my water breaking.

I am Strong because after 72 hours from being admitted, our son’s heart rate began dropping with contractions. It was decided a csection was eminent.

I am Strong because I sang hymns while being rolled into the OR, strapped to the table, to calm my nerves.

I am Strong because it took over five rounds of pain blockers to get my body to cooperate to have the procedure.

I am Strong because upon delivery, it was discovered our dear son had the cord wrapped around his neck twice.

I am Strong because after being wheeled into the recovery room while our son went to be tested/weighed, the nurses had turned the television on in the room.

I am Strong because our son was born the morning of the tsunami in Japan, March 11, 2011.

I am Strong because I felt at the same time immense joy for his new life, and ultimate sorrow for the tens of thousands of lives who were washed from this earth that fateful day.

I am Strong because we finally had a healthy baby boy!

I am Strong because I found out through two sessions with a domineering and condescending lactation specialist that I had inverted nipples and would eventually not be able to produce enough breastmilk to meet our son’s needs. I was not able to experience the deep bond with our son that so many others are blessed to have.

I am Strong because I left the hospital weighing more than I did while pregnant due to the amount of fluids and medications administered during these events.

I am Strong because the first week of having our son home also involved suffering through a reaction and withdrawal from a medicine the nurses gave me that I had previously admitted being allergic to on top of recovering from the surgery.

I am Strong because though our son was healthy, we noticed him having consistent tummy troubles. At the age of 2, he began having the same symptoms I have experienced as an adult with IBS, but at such a young age.

I am Strong because we had many trips to the doctor and even the ER but to no finite clarity on how to help our sweet boy.

I am Strong because our son suffered open sores for seven months during this ordeal.

I am Strong because I made the decision to attempt fixing his troubles through an elimination diet. It took over a year to find the source of the problem, mainly being all grains, but within a week of a completely benign diet, his sores healed and we began to enjoy watching him be a little boy with no more pain, only joy and curiosity.

I am Strong because our family is now on a modified paleo – low FODMAP lifestyle, with all of us having seen significant improvement in our health.

I am Strong because I only discovered Birth Without Fear through an acquaintance’s chance post on Facebook.

I am Strong because I wept with grief and relief to see how not alone I am in this world of traumatic births.

I am Strong because I’ve been able to lose all the weight I had gained and be more healthy now than ever before.

I am Strong because my Husband never left my side, from start to finish. He is my Rock, and I will Love him until my last breath.

I am Strong because we want a daughter.

I am Strong because we may not be able to have any other children.

I am Strong because I rejoice in the glorious secret world that is our happy home with my husband and son.

I am Strong.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Husbands, Wives, Mothers and Fathers:

We are STRONG.

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{I Am Strong} Making Peace with the Epidural

{I Am Strong} Making Peace with the Epidural

I wanted to share with you, the story of the birth of my second daughter, which was at 3:43 am on January 10th.

Let’s go back three years, when I gave birth to my first: induced by cervadil, 14 and a half hour labor, and an epidural at 5-6 centimeters where I had lost control and couldn’t gain my focus back. She weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was a week early! I pushed for well over an hour, and ended up having to have super pubic pressure performed by the nurses to finish birthing my baby. I swore I’d never “lose it” again and I’d never use another epidural.

Let’s jump forward, to Friday morning. I woke up at 3:30 am with mild contractions (hitting 41 weeks pregnant). After arriving at L&D triage, I was told I would be sent home due to lack of cervical change.

Apparently, baby had other thoughts because she became non-reactive and they immediately admitted me and started pitocin (something I was deathly scared of, due to the fact I was striving for an ALL natural birth).

The first stage was fantastic. I labored in different positions, walked, got on all fours. After they broke my water at 4cm, everything spiraled. I requested IV drugs to “take the edge off” but little did I know  the “edge” was nothing compared to pitocin-induced contractions. Still, I powered through because “Hey, my body was made for this, right?!”

Not even an hour later, I made my second request: nitrous gas to further “take that edge off.” I remember losing it, feeling like I wasn’t even in my own body, and that something else had taken over. Pain and fear (LOTS of fear!). The nitrous did nothing, but made me feel lost and even more unpresent in the birth of my daughter

My mother was in the room with me, and she was able to get me to find myself in her eyes (something I am beyond grateful for). I figured it would only be a matter of time before it was over, until I was checked and informed that I was “still barely a seven” and I lost it even more.

I was terrified of the pain, and it had completely taken me over. The LAST thing I wanted was an epidural, yet, not to much surprise, “Epidural!” was my next request.

My requests were becoming much more like demands, and I recall apologizing in between attacks on my support team and nurses. I felt horrible that I could not control myself. The epidural took centuries to start working (only 10 minutes) and I finally had peace… I was back!

My boyfriend and I (BLESS his heart) decided we’d take a short nap to rest up for the next few hours of labor, only to be awakened 15 minutes later by a nurse to set my catheter. In doing so, she discovered I was 10 centimeters!! I gave a light push and she felt baby come down! So at 3:30am exactly, I began pushing.

I felt relief, I felt empowerment, I did NOT feel pain! Thirteen minutes and just three pushes later, my 7 lb 6 oz baby was born, with zero complications.

Kaitlyn Medford

My story is long, but it is empowering to me. Yes, I got an epidural. Yes, I went against what I said I wanted the entire pregnancy. But with the point I was at, it was what both my baby and I needed! We needed a quick breath and a power nap so we could work together.

I faced my biggest fear, which wasn’t a natural child birth, but a drug induced child birth and the use of an epidural.

So for that, I am proud. I am strong.

{Submitted by Kaitlyn Medford}

My Breech Twin Vaginal Birth After Three Miscarriages

My Breech Twin Vaginal Birth After Three Miscarriages

My story starts with the journey of getting pregnant and what I endured to get these precious babies.

My husband and I got married June 2012 and had the most amazing honeymoon filled with love. We decided for me to stop taking birth control and to see what happens. I found out I was pregnant in October, 2012.

Before I could celebrate or be happy, I started bleeding. I was so confused. Was I really pregnant? I took 6 tests and all were positive. I thought I was just 2 weeks late on my period, because I was in denial that I was pregnant until I passed a small sac. I never really grieved it because I didn’t believe it was real.

A month later I had one of the most realistic and vivid dreams of my life. I saw Jesus in a white robe, holding a baby. He said, “It’s okay child, He will be okay, I will take care of him.” I woke up and cried and felt a wave of something majestic. Some days I feel guilty about not letting the miscarriage sink in, and not properly grieving it. I named this baby, Joey.

We got pregnant again in January, 2012! I was so excited! I immediately called my Mom to tell her the good news! My first week of knowing I was pregnant flew by and by week 5 I started getting tired and having pregnancy symptoms. Week 6 rolled by and my phone app said my baby had a heartbeat. I grew more in love everyday. Week 7 came and I thought wow, this is really happening, I’m going to be a mom. I secretly knew it was a girl, although that was something I kept to myself.

I was 8 weeks 1 day when everything changed… I started spotting. I went right to my doctor for an ultrasound. I was so nervous and anxious, praying everything was okay. I was laying there staring at the ultrasound screen anxiously waiting for those words, “Here is your baby, this is the heartbeat….” But instead I hear “This right here is your gestational sac and it looks like the baby didn’t develop properly.” I was numb, I didn’t even cry right away. She said that we would need to do a D&C. My doctor left the room and I took a picture of the screen. I sat there and stared at the empty sac, still in disbelief.

I got in my car and lost it. I started bawling. I could barely breathe. My Husband called hoping for good news. The words came out of my mouth for the first time, “The baby didn’t make it.” “What?”, was his reply. “Are you okay. Where are you? I’m coming.” I sat in the parking lot and my heart was literally hurting. My husband got there, got out and hugged me. I couldn’t talk. I thought to myself, did I let him down? Why me? What did I do wrong? The following weeks were some of the hardest of my life. I was very upset. I didn’t understand why I had to go through this. I dreamed about becoming pregnant for a while and imagined it to be so wonderful, but my dream just became a nightmare.

People didn’t really know what to say to me. Some people avoided it, some people said it wasn’t meant to be, some people said they were sorry and left it at that. I took a 2 weeks off of work… still awaiting my D&C. I was definitely in 7 stages of grieving and there was a clear sense of denial even after seeing 2 ultrasounds that clearly showed a non viable pregnancy. I thought maybe my tilted uterus is hiding the baby.

The morning of the D&C was emotional for me. I went through the procedure and woke up feeling empty and alone, even though I had a nurse there. I went home and slept all day. I woke up the next morning and wanted to start getting through this. I went through days of hopefulness, days of anger, bitterness and jealousy. I had a sadness that no one understood and a want for my baby that was so strong. I swear I saw a pregnant women everywhere I went- reminding me of what I wasn’t capable of. The world around me was pregnant and I was just living in it. My Mom kept reminding me that I would be a Mom someday, but there was a worry deep in the pit of my stomach that it wouldn’t happen. I didn’t want to go out because I knew that I would keep seeing things would remind me of my losses. At times I would just lay in my bed crying. My Mom and I came up with the name Stella for her. I wanted to start trying again after one cycle, and that is what we did. I didn’t think I would get pregnant again right away and to be honest I was still scared.

I woke up on a Saturday morning in May and I just felt like I was pregnant. I thought that was silly because I would have only been 3 weeks 3 days. I tested anyways. I got out a pregnancy test and nervously took it. I saw a faint but visible line! I started smiling, could it be? I got on my knees and thanked God. I felt so blessed, I felt like I was given another chance to have a sweet, beautiful baby. I rubbed my non existent belly/ baby bump and said” Thank you for picking me as your Mommy, I love you so much already”. I wanted to get creative on how to tell my husband because the first two times I just told him. I got a onesie and ironed on I love my dad in Bosnian (my husbands first language), along with the positive test. He was shocked and also informed me I spelled it wrong. I went right away for an HCG and Progesterone test. I had a good feeling, I tried to stay positive. My Dr’s nurse called me and said that the HCG was rising  now like it should and but my Progesterone was low. My heart sunk, and I asked if there was anything I could do. She said she called in Progesterone and to pick it up right away and take it. I took the rest of the day off, called my mom and rushed to the pharmacy. In my mind I thought that this couldn’t happen again. I was so scared.

I went to my Mom’s house and there was a lot of crying and hugging. I hadn’t even lost the baby yet nor did I know if I was going to lose it, but somehow I felt defeated. I even thought stupid things like well maybe I’m not meant to be a Mom. My Brother very quickly reminded me that I have so much love to give to a baby and that I was born to be a mommy to either my own biological baby or adopted baby. I had HCG tests every 2 days. The doctor was cautiously optimistic. My levels were still rising but not doubling every 2-3 days. At 6.5 weeks I got a miracle phone call. My levels doubled in 2 days. Finally the news I was desperate to hear! I cried tears of joy. We scheduled an ultrasound for the next week.

I went to my ultrasound appointment and we didn’t see anything but my doctor said it was probably too early. He saw a “hotspot” meaning that’s where the baby implanted and was growing, it was just too early to see the baby’s heartbeat. I felt calm and I knew the next ultrasound we would see the baby.

Three days later, my life changed again. I started bleeding. I stayed calm and told myself that I was okay because I wasn’t cramping. That night I passed a small clot and stayed in bed all day and the next days to come. A few days later I passed a large clot and I just knew that I would be miscarrying again. I started cramping and my world was shattered again. I went to the ER and passed a lot of blood. I had full on contractions. I tried to be at peace. I talked to my baby I named Anthony as I was miscarrying, and it helped me. I felt so broken, so useless. My body wasn’t capable of carrying a baby. I wondered how people would perceive it. Once again “why me” kept popping up in my head. I knew I had to do something to figure out why I kept losing my babies. I did a lot of research and finally went to a reproductive endocrinologist.

She was wonderful and helped us figure out the issue: low Progesterone, short luteal phase and MTHFR mutation. We started Clomid and got pregnant immediately. I was so happy but still rightfully scared. Our first ultrasound was set for 6 weeks. We waited for the tech and my heart was racing. She said how many babies do you think there are and I said I thought we were having twins. She turned the machine on and looked around and I could see it! Two sacs. Then she showed us something that would change my life. There were heartbeats! Two healthy, perfect little babies. My dreams had come true.

twins

I had a pretty uneventful wonderful pregnancy. I was very positive and didn’t see the aches and pains as a bad thing as I felt so blessed! We were beyond excited when we found out they were girls. We had a big gender reveal party and everyone was so happy. It seems every milestone we got to kept happening quicker and quicker. The biggest was making it to 30 weeks. That was one I was really happy about.

Maternity Shoot

At 32 weeks there was protein in my urine and I had elevated blood pressure, so my doctor wanted to monitor me twice a week. My labs and 24 hour urine test stayed pretty moderate and weren’t too concerning yet.

One morning at 34 weeks 2 days I woke up with severe upper abdominal pain that I tried to ease with a bath and laying down but I couldn’t move or breathe without it hurting. I decided to go to labor and delivery to be checked out. I arrived and my blood pressure was high. They consulted with my doctor and did labs. I was diagnosed with pre eclampsia. My doctor came to talk to me about my options because he was concerned if he sent me home I would end up back in labor and delivery that week and the few extra days of development wouldn’t really be a make or break in the health of the babies compared to the risk of the pre eclampsia. He checked my cervix and I was 2.5 cm and 50% effaced. He felt that it was in everyone’s best interest to induce me.

Gown

I called my husband and told him that I was being induced that day and he needed to go home to get some stuff and meet me at the hospital. I’m sure he was feeling a ton of emotions.  The nurse gave me an IV with fluids and gave me some apple sauce and cereal as my last meal before I was given Pitocin.

My husband arrived and it was go time! At 4:45pm the nurse gave me my first taste of Pitocin. My mom arrived and I tried to sleep but couldn’t. I didn’t really feel much pain or the contractions at that point. I was riding on adrenaline and it took a while to feel contractions. At 6:30pm my doctor came back to check me and I had progressed to 3.5 cm, but he unexpectedly broke my water. I’m actually glad I wasn’t warned of it because I probably would have tensed up in anticipation. That was when the fun started!

labor

I started getting stronger contractions. My mom and husband rotated giving me back rubs since I was having pretty bad back labor. I didn’t make much progress by 9pm. I felt discouraged as my contractions were bad enough that I though I would have progressed more. I was in pain and wanted an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It didn’t hurt and I felt relaxed immediately.

I was checked at 11:30 PM and I was 4cm. We decided to change my position and use a peanut ball between my legs. I will tell anyone wanting to have a vaginal birth to use the peanut ball! Only an hour later at 12:30 AM I got uncomfortable, partly because my epidural was wearing off- I called my nurse in. I wanted to switch positions as well as tell her I had the feeling I needed to go to the bathroom. She decided to check me and I was 9.5 cm. When she said that I was completely shocked! How did I go from 4cm to 9.5cm in an hour? My husband was sleeping on the couch and I called his name to wake him up, I said 9.5! He said what? I said 9.5 centimetres. He got up quickly and didn’t know what to do.

Meanwhile the nurse wouldn’t leave since the babies head was right there.  She called my doctor. My husband had the pleasure of holding my right leg up as the nurse took my left and on my next contraction I had my first experience with pushing. My nurse was surprised at how good I was at it because after two practice pushes she said stop. If I kept going she would be delivering Arijana. My husband got scrubbed up since I was delivering in the OR. It was very interesting to have contractions and not push. I had to breath through them and focus on keeping her in.

My doctor got there and they wheeled me into the OR where they deliver twins in case of the possibility of an emergency cesarean. I lifted myself up and moved to the bed and all the nurses were wondering how I could feel my legs to do that. I told them the epidural wore off and I was completely mobile. I remember music being on and while they were setting up and I thought it was funny the song We Will Rock You was on. I guess it was a good song to give me some energy to do this.

My doctor was ready and it was go time. On my next contraction I pushed twice and Arijana was out at 1:36 am. I was teary eyed and in awe of my sweet baby I just gave birth to.

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They did a quick ultrasound to see where Isabella was positioned, and she was still breech and very high up. He said he wouldn’t be able to turn her. I thought that meant he would have to do a c-section. As I thought this, I hear him say, “So that means were gonna deliver her breech.” He broke Isabella’s water. Having a baby breech was a totally different feeling. I felt her legs were out and with 2 pushes I pushed her head out and she was here at 1:41 am. The song Yesterday by the Beatles was on when I gave birth to Isabella.

I laid there shocked. I just gave birth vaginally to two babies with pre-eclampsia and one baby was breech. I felt like a total rockstar!

Isabella

Seeing Arijana for the first time was amazing. I got to look at her and talk to her for a few minutes before I gave birth to Isabella.

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I was able to see them a few minutes before they took them to the NICU as a precaution to monitor them to see if they needed to stay longer. I got wheeled back into the labor room where my mom was and she was shocked at how fast it happened. She was proud of me and so happy I got to have the girls the way I wanted. I told my husband to go with the babies. My Mom and I cried at the pictures my husband was sending me. I so badly wanted to be with them and that was hard.

An hour later I was finally able to go to my postpartum room and the NICU to see the girls. I immediately breastfed Isabella and she latched on amazingly! I had a picture perfect delivery with active labor only lasting 4 hours. I am so lucky and fortunate it went so well and the girls are healthy. Arijana weighed 4lbs 10oz and Isabella weighed 4lbs 3oz. They needed to stay in the NICU for 18 days and it was very hard to leave them, but they’re now home with us and although I’m barely getting any sleep, my heart is so full with these two beautiful & amazing daughters of ours. I can’t wait to watch them grow.

2

Our Story {Cleft Palate & Hypoplasia}

Our Story {Cleft Palate & Hypoplasia}

Before my husband and I had even started trying to get pregnant, I assumed I had it all figured out. I’d have a home birth. I’d breastfeed. And we’d have a perfect beginning bringing our perfect little baby into the world. You know what they say about assuming…

My pregnancy was pretty much picture-perfect. It took us no time to get pregnant once we decided we were ready. No time, as in, we decided on July 25th, and I was pregnant by August 1st. What could be better? Right on schedule. Just as it should be with a woman so focused on everything being in its right place at its right time.

All went well with the pregnancy. We heard the baby’s strong heartbeat on our first visit at 12 weeks. Morning sickness ended as I made it into my second trimester with no vomiting. All my blood work came back perfect. No gestational diabetes. I gained the right amount of weight based upon my size. Baby girl was head down when the time came. We had this. We were ready.

Fast forward to 3 days following my due date. Mild contractions started while I was at work that Friday. I took a few walks around the building. Then I called my husband, Keith, and we decided it was probably time to head home for the day and start getting things situated. This baby was on her way, and we needed to prep our home for her arrival.

My contractions had become gradually stronger by late evening as my friend Michelle arrived to check on me. Michelle, having had two home births (and one birth centre birth) confirmed this was, in fact, probably the real deal. I went over my plan in my head: “I call Angie (our midwife) for 3-1-1. Contractions are three minutes apart, lasting one minute and have been happening for one hour.” I didn’t qualify yet. We were settling in for the night. My husband, Michelle and I all headed upstairs to the bedroom.

All evening, Michelle and Keith took turns timing contractions. By midnight, I called Angie and informed her they were getting stronger, but still only 5 minutes apart. She inquired as to how I was coping and kept me on the phone through a contraction. I told her I was doing okay and could probably wait for her to come.

By 7 a.m., Angie came by to see how I was progressing. We had agreed early on that I did not want to know about my progress by how far I was dilated. I had heard too many stories of women getting frustrated and discouraged as they tracked dilation. I trusted Angie to keep encouraging me no matter how far I was (or wasn’t) along. Angie confirmed I was in active labor and that I should lie down and try to get comfortable, as this may be my last chance to do so. Angie had to run out for a bit, but said she would be back soon.

Shortly after Angie left, a strange sound came from our master bath. Keith was taking a nap in the spare bedroom, and Michelle had just came out of our guest bath when she informed me…there was no water. Did I mention I was supposed to have a home WATER birth? Um, yeah.

By noon on Saturday, my contractions were serious business. I discovered I really liked the counter in our master bath to hang on to as waves of contractions swept over me. With a pillow on the counter, I would sway back and forth as a contraction came on, lean the top half of my body over on the counter and I would plié through each wave. Deep moans accompanied each contraction. I laughed when Angie tried to get me to practice this guttural, animal like moan pre-labor, but in those moments, I was super thankful to be able to vocalize that way. It helped the contractions seem less intense and overwhelming, even if I did sound like a dying moose.

Finally, after flushing the toilets all day with pool water and using tons of hand sanitizer, the water came back and we were able to fill the tub. Following a nice, intense contraction, I vomited and held out hope that I was transitioning (whatever that was supposed to mean at this point). However, it appeared that the heave was only the result of choking on a piece of fruit right before that contraction. I was done eating anything no matter how much I needed to keep up my strength. Yuck!

Just as the sun had risen that Saturday morning, it began to set on a still very pregnant, laboring woman. We had turned all the clocks around so the light peeking through the blinds was my only indication as to the end of the day fast approaching. We’d tried it all, all day long. Laboring on knees (ouch), squatting (nada), laying on my side (no way), shaking the apple tree (ugh) and even my most favorite of all, inversions (kill me now). The water would be the answer, right?

As I crawled in, the warm water helped relax me a bit. First laboring on my bottom, then leaning over the side. And as the sun was setting, I looked around our bedroom. Everyone was sitting in our dimly lit bedroom, waiting. “For what?” I thought. “Transition? What does that look like for a first-timer? I mean, I know it’s when I’m getting ready to push, but for heaven’s sake we’ve been doing this for almost 24 hours now. Will that EVER happen?” So I looked to Angie. “What do I need to do to get things moving?”

“Get out of the water,” she said. And so I did. We headed to the stairs. Two at a time, I took those stairs. I leaned on a wall, lifted my belly, thrust my hips out through contractions. We sat me on a stack on pillows and inverted me through multiple contracts. Nothing seemed to do the trick. And at that point, with one last vaginal check, my midwife said, “I think we need to go to the hospital.”

The baby’s heartbeat was fine and so was mine; she just wasn’t coming down. I had been stuck at 6cm since 2 p.m. At this point, it was 10:30 p.m. Thankfully, I’d had enough sense to pack a hospital bag ahead of the time, just in case.

Once we arrived at the hospital, we parked and began walking in. (We still laugh about the fact that we were all so out of it that no one thought to drop the woman in labor off at the front door of the ER.) Angie prepped me for what was about to happen. They were going to tell me I needed a Cesarean Section. I did not, she told me. And I had every right to refuse one.

After the dirty looks and whispers that followed “she’s a transfer from a homebirth,” we were up in labor and delivery. And, we have to add some icing to our cake here, there was no air conditioning. Did I mention we live in southern Florida? Yeah. So, when the doctor arrived, any guesses what his first suggestion was? Yep. “Let’s section her.” I asked nicely to please be given the opportunity to deliver vaginally with some augmentation. Epidural followed by a little Pitocin. (Props to all the moms who delivered using Pitocin with no epidural. You are braver than I.) He said sure…“but you have one hour to progress. No progression and we will give you a c-section.” Thanks for the support, Doc.

As they called the anesthesiologist, one of the nurses informed me that they were going to work hard to get me the vaginal birth I wanted. They were going to get the doctor to give me more time. There is no doubt that God orchestrated those nurses to be on duty that night, just for me and my little girl. And once we got the epidural in and the Pitocin to follow, it didn’t take long before I was ready to push.

An hour and a half of pushing, and into the world came our little girl, beautiful and well. We placed her on my chest to give her the chance to get her first sip of my milk. But she didn’t latch. “Okay, it’s okay. It may take some time,” I thought. My very knowledgeable and skilled midwife placed her pinky finger in my baby’s mouth. “She has a tongue tie,” I was told. That’s fixable. I know others who have had babies with tongue ties and they were able to nurse. Awesome. We’ve got this.

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Later that day we were wheeled to our room and everything that ensued in the hospital was everything that I dreaded. People in and out all night. The paediatrician trying to tell me I needed to use formula because my milk wasn’t in yet (she was less than 24 hours old at this point!). A million untrained nurses trying to help me to get my daughter to latch. A volunteer telling me I was holding my baby wrong and that was why she was crying. All the things a first time mom doesn’t need to hear in a place she never wanted to be. Thankfully, we had her tongue tie taken care of later that day and she seemed to be able to latch (with a nipple shield,) and we finally headed home.

That first night home was supposed to be sheer bliss, right? She screamed on and off all night. What had happened to our sweet baby? What were we doing wrong? By morning I was calling my mom telling her to get in the car NOW and start her drive from Ohio to Florida. I called a friend, begging her to just come hold this baby so I could sleep for just an hour (I hadn’t slept in 4 days).

On Wednesday afternoon, three full days following my baby’s arrival, we sat down with Angie. Our little girl had lost a pound and an ounce. She was jaundice. And clearly, she wasn’t eating right, with all the crying and whatnot. So, Angie, an established breastfeeder, asked how I felt about wet nurses. “Whatever it takes,” I said. “We just need to get food in her and figure out what is wrong.” Angie tried to get her to latch. Then her assistant tried as well. No dice. And as my baby cried in my midwife’s arms, Angie peered into her mouth. As she looked intensely in between those little, hungry lips, I asked what was wrong.

“She has a cleft palate.”

What followed was a lot of tears and confusion. Why did no one catch this? Two paediatricians saw her and no one realized she had a hole in the roof of her mouth? How could we have missed this? No wonder she’d been so fussy; she hadn’t eaten since she was born.

Babies with cleft palates can’t create suction. Imagine trying to drink from a straw with a hole in it. You’re sucking but you get nothing. She’d not had anything in three days and I, the first time mom who wanted everything to go so perfectly, had managed to starve her baby from the get go.

First order of business, get food into the baby. I would have never dreamed of using another woman’s breast milk to feed my baby. But that’s what we did until my milk came in. We fed our baby via eye droppers/syringes. They were long feeding sessions, but she was getting food, finally. And as I became attached to a breast pump, we were able to sustain her on my milk alone…for a little while.

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For some reason, no matter how much I pumped (once every two hours, once every hour, etc.) I couldn’t get more than two ounces total. I ate steel cut oats. I had a friend make me a batch of lactation cookies. I took fenugreek (mmm, maple!). I power pumped and massaged. Warm compresses and goat rue herb. Nothing worked. Nothing increased my supply. And so, with the milk I could get, along with my friend Rebecca’s milk, we sustained my little girl on breast milk alone, for 6 weeks.

At our 6 week appointment, Angie informed me that I have something called Hypoplastic breasts. Essentially, underdeveloped breast tissue caused me to be unable to produce sufficient milk for our baby. I thought that the reason I couldn’t produce enough milk was because she was never able to breast feed. A baby does a much better job at draining a breast than a pump, and with that I thought I just needed to work harder and pump more. Not so. I may never, even with a baby that can suck, be able to produce enough milk to sustain a little one on my own. I may be able to do 70% of the work, but probably never 100%.

As I heard those words, the pain and exhaustion, the frustration and confusion drove me deeper into the beginnings of what I later found out was postpartum depression. And wasn’t it fair that I was depressed? My daughter was supposed to be born at home. She was supposed to be healthy. I assumed we would breast feed. And if I couldn’t, I assumed I’d pump exclusively. Remember what they say about assuming? Nothing went as planned. And it felt like everything was truly falling apart in those first few weeks of our lives.

With a lot of support and love, my postpartum depression is all but a distant memory. I still have days when I’m angry or frustrated. I had to stop following Le Leche League posts in my area on Facebook because it was nothing short of torture for me. It’s hard to listen to people bash formula feeding moms when I have a legitimate reason for doing so. It’s even harder to hear women talk about the joys of breastfeeding and how perfect and wonderful it all is. I wish we could have had that, but we didn’t. We fought hard to breastfeed and then pump, but we had a lot stacked against us. But it’s okay. We are okay. And other moms need to know…IT’S OKAY.

If things didn’t turn out as planned, it’s okay. You’re not a bad mom. Do you love your baby? Do you feed them formula because you couldn’t breast feed? It’s okay. Do you cuddle your baby and kiss her each day? Did your hospital birth end up with interventions? It’s okay.

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My daughter will be a year old next week.  She is a beautiful, smart, short-fused little wonder, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. She had her cleft repaired and tubes placed in her ears back in December. She’s healed perfectly. Gone are the days of feeding her upright with a special bottle and milk/food coming out her nose. And while she may (or may not!) need speech therapy or orthodontics later in life, overall, she’s a pretty normal kid…well as normal as you can be with a mom like me.

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At the end of the day, my husband and I should have known this would happen. We should have known that things would have been so over the top ridiculous, from a home birth transfer, losing water, no air conditioning, tongue tie, cleft palate, jaundice, hypoplasia to postpartum depression because come on, you can’t name your baby “Story” and not expect one to accompany her. We love our little girl, Story Jane, more than words can describe, and she was worth every assumption that went awry. She is the exact baby we were supposed to have “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

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Healing Through Birth

Healing Through Birth

I’m writing this in hopes that it will help with my healing. It’s been two months since my son came into this world and I feel like my story needs to be shared.

A little back story: My husband and I got married at the ripe old age of 20 after only dating for a year! I found out I was pregnant at 21, and had our first child at 22. I had an amazing birth experience with him (Jackson). He was posterior which lead to MAJOR back labor, but after only 7.5 hours, he was mine!  Recovery was difficult because my husband went back to school the following week. I dealt with severe PPD and it took about two months to heal!

6 months later… I was pregnant again.  We found out that I was pregnant the same day we found out that a good friend of ours had passed away.  I had also stopped breastfeeding the month before and was dealing with the emotions of unexpectedly weaning Jackson.  I was not ready to be pregnant again, but I embraced what the Lord blessed me with.

We found the perfect midwife and started planning our home birth. We knew that we wanted an out of hospital experience since that is what we had with Jackson.  Everything went smoothly up until my last trimester.  My blood pressure started creeping up. I changed my diet, used my essential oils, took an herbal supplement… But it just did not do the trick.

July 18th I woke up with a massive headache. I knew that my midwife warned me that I needed to contact her if I started showing signs of pre-eclampsia. I was only 38 weeks pregnant and I always assumed that this baby would be born late since his brother was… So I used some essential oils and it didn’t help. I chugged water and it didn’t help. I took Tylenol… Nothing helped. I finally called the midwife to tell her what was going on and she recommended that we go to the hospital.

After sitting in triage for a couple of hours, it was decided that I had pre-eclampsia and that I needed to be induced that night. My dreams of a peaceful home birth were shattered. My husband and I were devastated, but determined to go ahead with my “birth plan” as much as I could.   Unfortunately, that did not happen.

After 8 hours on Pitocin, I thought I was in transition. They started prepping the room and I was trying to hold back my excitement!!! I was ready to meet our little boy!  I got up off of that birth ball and positioned myself in the bed (not as gracefully as this sounds since I had probably 3 killer contractions between the ball and the bed!).  The student doctor checked me and to my horror, I was only 4cm.  When that doctor couldn’t figure out his “station”, another student came in. I felt so violated. I felt so defeated. The student doctors didn’t take a second to look at me and see that their attempts to find his station were causing me so much pain.   After that, it was all over.

My emotions went crazy after that. I agreed to the laughing gas to try to help me calm down, but it just made me a crazy woman. The gas caused my blood pressure to get to the dangerous level. I finally had to consent to the epidural… Which of course was administered by another student. It’s a little unnerving when you hear the teacher say “no… I don’t think that is the right spot” when they are dealing with your spine.   Eventually they figured it out and the epidural worked on half of my body. They would come in to roll me onto my side so that the epidural would work better, but that just caused the other side to be numb and the first side to be in pain again.

About an hour after the epidural was administered, I felt the need to push!!! I woke my husband and got him to call the nurse back in. She checked me and it was time to go!!!  As the baby was crowning, the doctor realized that my water never broke. He kept saying that he was going to break it, but I refused it.  Our son Aiden was born at 1:24pm in the arms of his father IN the amniotic sack after 13 hours of labor.

BWF Rachel

Things may not have gone the way we planned it by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe that his entrance was like the rainbow after the flood!   I’m still dealing with PPD and I have been diagnosed with PTSD and this is why I felt the need to share my story.

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Rachel

Teaching Strength {I Am Strong}

Teaching Strength {I Am Strong}

I am strong because I got pregnant when my son was 10 months old.

I am strong because it was after a miscarriage and I spent my entire first trimester in fear of losing this baby too.

I am strong because I planned to birth at a birthing center.

I am strong because after only 3.5 hours of labor I welcomed my baby girl into this world in the water.

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I am strong because I remained calm as it took her four whole minutes to take her first breath.

I am strong because at 4 days old my daughters pediatrician heard a heart murmur and referred us over to our local children’s hospital.

I am strong because eve though she said it was no rush, I demanded to be seen the next day.

I am strong because at five days old, my perfectly healthy baby, was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects.

I am strong because I let my six day old baby be wheeled away from me and have open heart surgery.

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I am strong because she was so small she needed a shunt instead of a repair surgery.

I am strong because after her surgery I made it my goal to breastfeed.

britt beaus strong baby

I am strong because her vocal cords were paralyzed during surgery and we were sent home on a feeding tube.

I am strong because I pumped and fed her breastmilk through her nasogastric tube.

I am strong because she was exclusively  breastfeeding by 6 weeks old.

britt beaus i am strong baby

I am strong because less than 2% of heart babies breastfeed.

I am strong because she is thriving. She is meeting all milestones and beating all odds.

I am strong because I believe I her strength.

I am strong because I advocate for my daughters health every single day.

britt beaus baby girl

I am strong because my daughter has another open heart surgery at 4 months old in just two weeks.

I am strong because I will have to hold it together as I let go if my precious baby for a second time.

I am strong because I am a mother. A mother to a little girl who I am teaching to have her own strength.

{Story submitted by mama Brittney Beus.}

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