These will never get old. Because women feeling supported and empowered should be the damn norm, no matter how we birth. 🌟 “Never Underestimate the POWER of a Woman. Never underestimate the power of YOURSELF. Sometimes it means digging deep, but I can tell you…you come out the other side feeling on top of the whole entire world. 💙 It felt SO dang good to celebrate birthing Trey and I really cannot wait to tell you guys the full story! Let’s just say it’s a good one: the OB had to deliver him with her fleece on, barely had time to catch him, and it is official that the only way I give birth is standing up. 🙃💙 • I’m also over the moon to raise TWO little gentlemen, because if there is one thing this mama can teach them…it’s that women are every bit as strong and capable as ANY man. They will give women the respect that we DESERVE, that is my #goals.” 🙌🏽 @ameskiefer #birthwithoutfear #optionssupportrespect
We often share photos of women, moments after birth, with their eyes wide and full of excitement and joy as they process this new life that they have brought into the world. For nine months their bodies spent creating this miracle; then there is birth – and regardless of how a woman gives birth, there’s always a bit of fear and anxiety mixed with the excitement of meeting this gift your body has worked so hard for. But sometimes, birth is neither the hardest nor the scariest part of the journey. Sometimes it’s the beginning.
We were happily surprised when we found out that I was pregnant with our third child in February of 2013. I loved being pregnant with my first two; and for the most part, they were smooth, non-complicated pregnancies. But at about 6 weeks along, our lives were turned upside down. Everyone told me that I was just experiencing a bad case of morning sickness; but what I didn’t know is that sometimes it’s NOT just morning sickness.
Sometimes it means not being able to keep down even a sip of water the whole day – not being able to eat even a bite for days at a time – not being able to acknowledge the other children that are begging for your attention. Sometimes it means falling into such a deep depression that you become scared of where your mind and thoughts find themselves. You question your sanity, ability and purpose in life.
In just a few weeks, you find that your clothes don’t fit and you don’t recognize the person in the mirror. You lose an unhealthy amount of weight (21 lbs in my case) in a very short period of time. You throw up so severely and so often that you burst every blood vessel under your eyes. Your normally tidy house becomes a place of shame; the laundry piles up, and your husband is forced into taking your place while you are permanently situated in the same place on the couch and in the same clothes for days at a time.
You convince yourself that you are dying.
This is NOT morning sickness. This is someone’s life being thrown upside down for months. Because it is something that we rarely hear about or talk about, it left me feeling like there was something wrong with me or that maybe I was just being a big baby and this was all normal (until my doctors informed that it was not). I was fortunate to find relief half way through my pregnancy; and that is when Marisa Pellerin Photography caught this picture of me. I barely recognized my body or myself at that point, but seeing this beautiful picture with the sun peeking through gave me hope after some of my darkest days. Pregnancy can be hard but even then, it sure is beautiful.
I hope that by sharing this, we can help those we love in the future and bring some awareness to Hypermesis Gravidarum. Pregnancy is beautiful, but it’s not always easy.
Photograph by Marisa Pellerin Photography.
Rebecca shares a beautiful reflection on her c-section scarring.
I don’t actively go out of my way to look at my scar. I don’t hide its existence, but I just don’t fuss over it either. It is there, under a little flap on my tummy, hiding until I straighten myself out to peer at it in the mirror.
I didn’t always look this way. My tummy was once flat, though anyone who had only just met me in the last 4 years would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
I recently enjoyed reading some stories of old friends experiencing success in their careers, unhindered by children and able to progress to the peak of their industries. I get more time to read about these things on Facebook while I feed my 4-month old as I put her to sleep, lying on my side and stroking her hair as she drifts off.
I wouldn’t exchange her, or my son, for any success in the world; and so I can say confidently and clearly that I have only happiness for these people. There are no “what ifs” or “maybes”. There is only joy and excitement.
Are you waiting for the “But…”? It’s not there. If I learned anything from having children, it’s that comparing success is a dangerous road, which inevitably leads to hurt for one or both parties.
So I stood up tonight and actively looked at my scar for the first time after having my daughter. It’s been four months. It’s still red, and is joined by the little skin flap and array of stretch marks that appeared three years ago after having my son through the same scar.
Both of my children were born by “elective cesarean”, though to say it was an elective choice is a lie. My son was born through a cut in my stomach after 36 hours of labor with no progression. I was given the option to continue labor, but after being told the safest option was to wheel into surgery, I agreed with the doctor’s suggestion and jumped on the trolley towards the surgery room.
People like to tell you when swapping birth stories (sometimes dangerous ground to tread) that they always have a friend who pushed through 36-hour labors, and against the odds had a vaginal birth that was “the most amazing experience a person could have”. Every time I hear these stories I have to remind myself that I chose what was right for me. My son’s birth involved me lying paralyzed on a surgery table, discussing kindergarten options with the surgery nurse whose son was about to enter school. Then my body started thrashing in what I later found out was shock from blood loss. Then the doctors did some stuff, and then I held my son. Then they weighed him, and I held him again while my husband cried with joy and I just made gulping sounds of joy in a greyish state. It’s not the almighty experience that vaginal birth stories have led me to believe.
My son is now 3. He is witty, cheeky, clever and naughty. I have never been more euphoric than when we sit and talk about his day for the single minute that he can stand to sit before running off again to play or explore everything in his environment. He is simply everything and all I could ever dream he could be.
He likes my tummy. He thinks the stretch marks make an excellent road for his mini trains and seems to assume they are ‘”pretty” before he will become socially programmed to be repulsed by them (I dread the day and work with everything in my power to prevent it).
He was recently diagnosed with asthma. My friend, who loves and is loved by my children, let me in on some medical facts she learned from her midwife mama: “Did you know cesarean babies are 90% more likely to get asthma due to not getting their lungs squeezed in the birth canal?” She asked. She didn’t mean for it to hurt; and if she knew, she would have been devastated. But it’s not uncommon for people to assume you were just totally cool to have a c-section and that it was all sweet.
Did my birth decision cause my son to end up hospitalized and struggling to breathe because I chose to be wheeled into that surgery?
My daughter came out of the same scar. They reopened it for her. She was breech and I had an “incompetent pelvis” (what a name!), which made it hard for her to engage and come down the canal naturally. So again, I “chose” to get on the trolley. I “chose” to get a syringe in my spine. I “chose” to risk going into shock again and needing a blood transfusion, and I chose what was medically deemed the safest way to bring my daughter into the world with the extenuating circumstances. If the doctor said that my leg was in the way and could risk my child’s safety during childbirth, you could bet your bottom dollar I would be hopping out of that hospital with my kids.
So tonight I stared at my scar. I took a photo of it. I marveled that this little cut bought my children into the world and made my life complete. I called in my husband to look too. He said what I was thinking without me saying a word – “Can you believe you bought our children into the world through that scar? It’s one of my favorite parts of you.”
I started going to the gym. I would like my tummy to be less wide and a little flatter. No matter how many crunches, sit-ups or planks I do, those stretch marks will stay. No amount of shea oil will wipe away my scar. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, because it made my world complete.
Disclaimer: A tubal/ectopic pregnancy carries serious risks. This is one woman’s experience and is a rare outcome. Nothing shared here replaces medical advice or reflects any other woman’s experiences or needs or outcomes.
I wanted to be a mother from as far back as I can remember. But I suffered from an eating disorder and as such, I had irregular periods, sometimes going as long as nine months without one. I knew if I was not having periods I was not ovulating and could not get pregnant so my husband and I decided to start trying as soon as we got married in hopes of eventually conceiving. We had been trying to get pregnant for months and had basically given up and decided to wait.
Then one morning when I was laying in the bath, I looked down at my stomach and something inside me knew I was pregnant. I bought a test without telling my husband and while he was at work I took it. I sat there for what seemed like hours waiting for those faint pink lines to appear. As my heart was thumping I looked down and just about fell off the toilet as I saw two pink lines. I didn’t know if I should believe it, I was shocked surprised and excited all at the same time. In a daze with tears in my eyes I got in my car and rushed to my husband’s work.
On the way I called and told him I had something to show him and told him to meet me outside. I arrived and he jumped into my car thinking I was just there for a normal visit but to his shock I pulled out the test and showed it to him. He stared at it for about five minutes and finally stuttered out, “So does that mean we’re pregnant?” Teary eyed we hugged with the excitement of knowing our lives were about to change forever.
I went home and took four more tests all confirming our good news but I decided to see a doctor to confirm. We showed up at the doctor’s office expecting him to say yep, you’re pregnant, take care of yourself, but that was not at all what we heard. They of course took a pregnancy test and it came back positive but when it came time for the exam the doctor got very quiet. Knowing nothing could be wrong I asked him anyway and very quietly he answered, “Your uterus does not appear pregnant.”
I didn’t understand and thought it was some fluke so I didn’t really pay much attention but he sent me right down to have an ultrasound. I quietly lay on the table waiting to see an image of my baby – I was actually excited. The tech turned on the monitor and slowly began checking my uterus. She had the monitor on for at least 10 minutes and I patiently waited for her to say look there’s your baby, but nothing happened. She turned the monitor off and said, “I couldn’t find anything. It doesn’t appear you are pregnant.”
My heart sank; they sent me into the waiting room where I waited for half an hour until the radiographer came in. He told me that they could not find a fetus in my uterus but actually found a lump in my tube, and they thought my baby was growing in my tube. I went home still confused but sure they had made a mistake. The next day I went to a specialist. They did another ultrasound and still couldn’t see a fetus but the lump in my tube had grown.
Above, my empty uterus at almost five weeks pregnant. Below, the ultrasound report with names removed:
[…] Clinic, P.S. 400 East […]th Avenue Spokane, Washington 99220 PATIENT NAME: […] DIANA B DOB: 10/29/1984 EXAM DATE: 3/31/2008 15:57 REFERRING DOCTOR: MICHAEL […] M.D. PROCEDURE: PELVIC ULTRASOUND INDICATIONS: Pelvic pain. Positive pregnancy test. TECHNIQUE: Transabdominal scans were obtained followed by transvaginal scans for better visualization. FINDINGS: The uterus measures approximately 8.8 x 4.4 x 5.9 cm. The endometrium is moderately thickened and the endometrial cavity is empty and no gestational sac is identified. In the left adnexa, there is a complete cystic/solid mass measuring approximately 3.3 x 2.2 x 2.4 cm. It is minimally hypervascular around the margins. This is adjacent to a relatively normal appearing left ovary and this is suspicious for an ectopic pregnancy, although an unusual hemorrhagic cyst could have a similar appearance, although I think this is less likely. Correlation with HCG levels would be helpful. The right ovary is well visualized and appears normal. There is a small amount of free intraperitoneal fluid visualized in the cul-de-sac. CONCLUSION: Complex left adnexal mass adjacent to the left ovary. In a patient with a positive pregnancy test, this is suspicious for an ectopic pregnancy. The uterus is empty. Correlation with HCG levels would be helpful. There is only a small amount of free intraperitoneal fluid in the cul-de-sac. Dictated by: Thomas […] M.D. on 3/31/2008 at 16:41 Transcribed by: PRATT on 3/31/2008 at 15:50 Approved by: Thomas […], M.D. on 3/31/2008 at 16:54
The doctor then came in and very sharply said, “Diana, it appears that you have a tubal pregnancy with about three and a half centimeters of clot and bleeding in your tube and if we do not get it out immediately your tube could burst and it could kill you.” I looked at him with tears welling in my eyes and said, “Are you telling me I have to abort my baby?” As the words came out my whole body began shaking and tears were now streaming from my eyes.
He looked back at me and almost coldly said these words that still to this day ring in my ears, “Diana, you need to stop thinking of this as a baby, this is not a baby nor will it ever be one.” My heart broke and I began sobbing as the doctor continued to tell me he wanted to hook me up to an IV that would send a cancer drug into my body and as he put it allow the ‘egg’ to leave my body. He acted like it would be quick and painless, no big deal. I knew in my heart I couldn’t do it and told him I needed more time.
He thought I was crazy and became angry at me for putting my life in danger. My husband drove me home and I curled up into a ball on the couch and sobbed for hours. This was my child, my amazing beautiful child I had waited for, and they were telling me I had to kill it. I was mad at myself, mad at God, mad at everyone. After a few hours I looked at my husband as he held me and said, “Honey, do you think the baby is in my tube?” and he sent chills down my spine as he responded, “Yes.”
Hysterically I kept running through my mind trying to figure out how to save my baby, thinking maybe if we leave him alone he could actually grow in my tube. I soon realized the only one who could save my baby was God. I asked my mom to drive us to the healing rooms and she quickly took us there. Once inside they took us to a room with three people waiting to pray over us. I was bawling as they all gathered around me and hands touching my stomach, began to pray. My body suddenly became warm and a sense of calmness spread through me. I could see my baby and I saw him in God’s hands.
At the same time my husband said he felt someone touching his shoulder and at that moment he knew everything was going to be okay. As I left they told me God had my baby and not to allow the doctors to do anything for a few days. I called the doctor and told them I needed until Friday to make a decision. They were not happy but complied. For the next three days I lived in a black hole. In my heart I think I knew God was going to save my baby but my body was terrified. I was afraid at any second my tube would burst, killing not only my baby but also myself. But most of all I was afraid that I would go to the doctor on Friday and THEY would kill my baby.
I lived in darkness for those three days (literally): sleeping, crying, and praying (begging) God to save my child. Some may not believe this but Thursday, as I lay there immersed in darkness praying to God to save my child, I saw a vision of my baby again in God’s hands but this time I saw them in my womb. God said, “I have your child” and gently lifted him up and placed him in my uterus. Crying and not sure if I was imagining, I called my mom and told her what I saw.
She said, “Diana, everything is going to be okay. I saw your baby and it is a boy and he is okay.” I hung up and fell asleep waiting for the morning. I was awoken the next morning by a phone call; it was the doctor’s office. The nurse on the line told me the doctor was allowing me to have another ultrasound but immediately after wanted me in the emergency room to administer the drug. They were ready to kill my child without a second thought.
We all drove to the hospital in silence; I think all expecting the worst. Again my heart knew it would be okay but my brain knew there was no baby in my uterus; once again I lay on the table and the tech began scanning my uterus. My heart began sinking further and further as I watched the screen and squeezed my husband’s hand. In my mind I kept imagining them strapping me to a table and taking my child from my body. It was agonizing.
All of a sudden the tech said, “Look, there’s your baby.” I thought she was joking and I looked at her not even able to cry because I couldn’t believe her. She pointed to the screen and said, “Look, it’s a perfectly healthy egg with a yolk sac. The fetus is 5 weeks old.” I got up from the table and my husband and I walked into the waiting room in shock. As we entered the room I looked at my mom and quietly said, “They found him.”
She screamed in the middle of the hospital and with everyone staring picked me up crying and screaming. It was honestly the most amazing moment of my life and I cannot even describe how it felt. Immediately the doctor called and said, “It’s a miracle because three days ago I would have sworn that baby was in your tube and today it is in your uterus and the bleeding in your tube is gone.” That was about all he said and then he hung up.
To this day I know the doctor was right, I know my son was in my tube and I know the only reason he is here today is because of God. I put his life in God’s hands and believed that what needed to happen would and God gave me the most precious blessing. Every time I look at my son I see God and I am thankful for what He did for my family, what He did for my son, and what He did for every person that prayed for my son and was touched by this Miracle. I want to take my son to that doctor and say, “See what you almost killed.” My son is a Miracle and I will never forget it.
Don’t underestimate what God can do if you believe, and don’t always listen to your doctor. If I did, my son would not be here today. You can follow Diana’s journey at www.pcospains.blogspot.com
Originally written 10/29/2010.
With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.
At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.
I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.
Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.
If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.
So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?
Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.
Which breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.
- Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
- Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
- Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.
There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:
- Chiropractic adjustments and the Webster Technique
- Spinning babies
- Playing music low on the belly and placing frozen peas on top of your belly. Fun things that won’t hurt any, so why not try?
- Visualize, meditate and pray (this is more powerful than most people realize).
- Hire a care provider who is comfortable and knows what to do (and not to do) for breech births.
- Acceptance and Faith (your baby knows exactly what (s)he is doing).
Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.
- Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
- Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
- Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
- When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
- Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
- Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
- Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
- Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one. Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
- If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!
A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.
Monday, the 15th of December, 2014 – my husband and I anxiously waited in the waiting room of the hospital for our midwife appointment. At this point, I was eight days late and we were a little anxious to meet our baby we’d waited nine long months for, anxious about the impending labor and delivery that we both had no idea about what to expect, and the idea of the afterwards, we’d have a baby to take home. What did that mean for us? How will we know what to do with her if she cries or needs something? How will we know?
The midwife called us in and asked me to make myself comfortable on the bed and my husband sat on the chair next to me. The midwife discussed what they were going to do. A stretch and sweep, and check how much I was dilated. They did this and said that I was 1cm dilated. At eight days late, with no sign of labor coming any time soon, the midwives decided with a conversation with the delivery doctor that if it didn’t happen in two days, by Wednesday the 17th of December 2014, I was to be induced and then that was it. We could go home and wait until our baby came naturally or wait until Wednesday to arrive. We were excited. We had a clear date of when we would meet her. The whole pregnancy was a question of when the baby will come, what day to expect her, guessing, researching old wives tales on the date she’ll arrive, never really knowing, but now we did. We knew then that we would meet her in just a few short days and we were excited and terrified! We immediately called my husband’s parents and told them the news. The induction was a scary thing for me, because I’d been explained that an induction can increase the risk of needing to have a cesarean and being major abdominal surgery, needing a spinal block, and the recovery afterwards with a new baby. I was scared. We didn’t tell anyone else of when she was to arrive. We wanted to keep that all to our self and have the next few days together.
Tuesday the 15th of December, we went out for lunch. We ate at a café down the road from our house and we laughed. We talked about our baby and who she might look like. We discussed her hair colour and whose eyes she’d have. We talked about names we liked and laughed about what would happen if she were a boy, having spent the last five months being told it was a girl! We watched a movie at home and just spent time together. This was, for a while, to be the last moments it was just us two. Tuesday night came and she still hadn’t arrived. The midwives explained to us on Monday that if I hadn’t gone into labour by 6am on Wednesday morning to call them and let them know we were coming to the hospital and the process of induction would begin.
So we went to bed. I don’t think either of us got a lot of sleep that night, but before we knew it the alarm had sounded. It was 5.15am and we had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital. We lay in bed awhile and said good morning to each other. We checked our phones for any calls and cuddled awhile. My husband said, “C’mon it’s time to get up, have a shower, and we’ll call the hospital.” I sat up in bed and as I did I heard and felt a “pop” sound come from inside me. I felt a slight trickle of water and said to Shaun what had happened. I stood up out of bed and felt some more water come from me. My waters had broken. Shaun said, because it was only a small amount to call the hospital and check what we should do. I called the midwives on the labour ward and explained what had happened.
I remember so clearly the midwife on the other end of the phone excitedly tell me, “Yes honey, your waters have broken, you’re gonna have a baby today.” I cried! She told me to still come in as I was now ten days overdue and I’d need to be monitored anyway. I couldn’t believe it. We had booked an induction and we were mentally ready for that to happen and then my labour had started naturally! We showered and changed and we were on our way. We dropped the dog off to our parent’s house along the way. They hugged and kissed us and wished us luck and we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl. We got to the hospital carpark at about 7am. Shaun sent a text to only his close friends telling them, “It’s go time.” They all knew exactly what that meant and they sent texts back wishing us luck and love; we walked inside.
The midwives were beautiful. They greeted us warmly and showed us to our room and we sat on the bed waiting for someone to come back in and see us. The midwives came in explained they would break my waters. They knew I had lost a little water earlier, but needed to be sure, and explained and carried out the process of the induction. They explained and carried out the beginning of the induction. They inserted an IV into my right arm. The internal examination during the braking the waters process showed I was still 1cm dilated. This was a concern, but we were optimistic that the dilation would increase with the help of the induction. They placed heart monitors on my tummy to be able to watch our baby’s heart rate as the induction process was going on. They sent the oxytocin into my blood stream and the labour was officially started. Around 9.30am I really started to feel the pain. Induction is rightly known as “0-60,” as the labour pains started immediately with barely any lead up! After a few hours of searing pain, then turning it down, semi awful pain, then turning it up it was 6pm. I sucked on the gas, I sat on a gym ball, I laid over the back of the bed, I probably stood on my head, but I just couldn’t find a position comfortable enough that I could get through the pain easily and quickly.
Shaun was amazing. He held my hand through every contraction, some minutes apart. He rubbed my back and whispered he loved me in my ear. He reminded me through every moment that he was the most amazing man I’d ever met and I was so glad we were doing this together. 6pm. The midwives did another internal examination to check how dilated I was. I was 2cm. This was obviously taking a long time. An epidural was offered to me. This was the one thing I didn’t want. The midwives explained to me that as this was taking too long. If our labour happened to speed up, by the time we got to it I would be too tired to push her out vaginally, possibly sending me into an emergency caesarean and they recommended I have the epidural so we could get some rest, hopefully relaxing my cervix and bringing on labour faster. 11.45pm and we had both fallen asleep waking to the midwives introducing us to the delivery doctor, Dr. Lee. They asked me if they could do an internal examination again to see how well the epidural had worked and to give us an idea of when she might arrive.
I was 3cm dilated. The doctor and midwives quickly decided that this wasn’t happening naturally. The baby had showed increased signs of distress, her heartrate wasn’t consistent and what they could feel from that last internal was her head wasn’t close enough to my cervix and too big for my pelvic opening and I needed to have a caesarean, immediately. By 12AM we were on our way to surgery. Shaun was given a blue gown and pants and asked to quickly change. I was scared. After the epidural I could still slightly feel the contractions in my left side and knowing that I was having this surgery with just a little “top up” I was scared that I was going to feel the pain or have to be put to sleep. We waited in the surgery waiting room, and I cried. I cried at Shaun saying how scared I was and he was so brave. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was scared because I knew if the spinal block didn’t fully take I would have to be put under local anesthetic and put to sleep were I wouldn’t be there to see your little girl come into the world. I was scared because I didn’t think I’d wake up.
After about 15 minutes I was brought into the delivery room. I went in alone so they could get me ready while Shaun waited outside. I was crying. They moved me to the surgical bed and the doctors and nurses were all busy around me getting everything ready. Shaun was let into the room and he was seated to my right, next to my head. A blue sheet was put in front of us so we didn’t see the surgery. The anesthetist topped up my spinal block and the doctor rubbed ice cubes on my legs asking me to tell him if I could feel it. I could. They waited a few more minutes and it had fully worked and they could begin the surgery. Dr. Lee talked us through the whole procedure. I was panicked and asking them to stop and they kept talking me through. “Your baby will scream and cry out for you any minute.” Shaun was doing his best to keep me calm, as was the anesthetist sitting to my left. They told me where they had cut and what they were dong next and told me she’d be here any second, and then just like that, she came earth side.
Dr. Lee called out, “Baby girl born at 1.06am” The midwives called to Shaun and asked him to come over and see her and all I heard was: “She’s not breathing on her own, but that’s normal” I panicked. I was calling out to my baby and asking Shaun what was happening. The anesthetist explained that some babies born by caesarean need help to start breathing on their own and she was one of them. I didn’t hear at the time, but she started to cry a few minutes later in the surgery room. Shaun came over to me quickly and said, “She’s here; she’s okay, but we’re taking her to the neonatal ward to be sure.” I told him, “Don’t leave her side.” He assured me he wouldn’t and they both were gone.
Shaun and the nurses rushed our daughter up to the neonatal ward, but on the way decided that she was okay and all came back down to the recovery to wait for me. They asked Shaun to have a seat and relax; they wrapped her up and gave her to him. He held her for the very first time. He fell in love! I was alone in the surgery room. It took approximately an hour to be stitched up and to come out of surgery. Up until this point I had not seen my daughter or her dad. I didn’t know if they were okay and I was scared. They wheeled me out of the surgery into recovery and I saw my husband sitting there. He was holding a white bundle of blankets and I asked him where our baby was and what he was holding. He said, “She’s here, come and meet our daughter.” Shaun asked me if I liked the name Emily and I said of course. Up until that point we had no idea what her name would be. We had mentioned the name Emily a few times, along with others, but never really stuck to any one name. We met her and we knew that she was an Emily.
She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. He handed her to me and she laid on my chest. She cuddled into me, our skin touching. She cooed at me and cried a little and I fell in love with her. She was a part of us. She was a piece of our heart outside of our body and she was ours. 42 weeks and 20 hours later I got to hold her in my arms. She was our beautiful daughter. The longest hour of my life not knowing if she was okay, 19 hours of a really painful and scary labour, nine long months of waiting and we finally got to meet her. I knew I loved her when I found out we were pregnant, but I could never have fathomed this feeling. I was devoted to her, proud of her, and I was completely and utterly in love with her, and I had only just met her. She was here, she was finally with us and we would never be happier than we were in that moment.
Together we became parents in what I can only describe as the very best moment of my life. It was a magical and intimate moment we shared together. She chose us to be her mum and dad and for that we are forever grateful.
“The knowledge of how to give birth without outside interventions lies deep within each woman. Successful childbirth depends on the acceptance of the process.” ~Suzanne Arms
Quick history on my other kiddos births:
*McKenna born via cesarean section in 2008 due to “failure to progress”, and decelerations in fetal heart tones which we were told were completely normal after the delivery.
*Liam born via repeat cesarean section in 2011 after 67 hours of labor due to “failure to progress” and mentioned I was probably not able to have a vaginal birth.
*Wesley via drug free vba2c in 2013, 10lbs 2oz!
*Gracelyn via repeat cesarean section in 2014. At 33 weeks my water ruptured, and it was discovered that I had placental abruption. I was still determined to deliver vaginally, but she was breech. When I went back into labor, there was meconium, her heart rate was all over the place, and I decided the cesarean was the best choice. They had to do a t-incision to help deliver her head.
After we had Gracelyn my desire for more children was hugely lessened. I was afraid of having another cesarean and was pretty traumatized from her birth in general. For the first time in our seven years I was trying NOT to get pregnant. My husband, Tony, brought up how much he didn’t like seeing me this way. He didn’t want me to stress about having another baby and encouraged me that if we did get pregnant again, we didn’t HAVE to schedule a cesarean. It made me feel more confident and I put my trust back to God with our future children…if there were any more to come. Around this same time, Tony said he was praying for each of our children by name and felt like God said, “What about your unborn son, Jackson?” About a week later to our surprise, we were pregnant! I spent a few weeks reading everything I could find about VBA3C, specifically with a special scar. Unfortunately there is not much, but I felt confident trying with what I did find. Fast forward through a normal pregnancy…
I wanted an autumn baby so badly and didn’t think it would be an issue whatsoever, since typically my babies come late. I didn’t think I would literally have a baby born on the first day of fall. On September 23rd, at 1:20am, a contraction woke me up. I went to the bathroom experiencing fun early labor stuff and lost my plug with some show…I was excited, but assumed I had at least a day or two until baby. I continued contracting inconsistently until around 8am when things almost completely stopped. I had prayed for this moment, because I was exhausted and really wanted to nap. I stayed in bed the majority of the day and had a contraction every once in a while and assumed baby would be coming for sure within the next few days.
Around 5:30/6pm the kids got insane and Tony was pretty exhausted, because he was still recovering from eye surgery. I made dinner, and did dishes and started having contractions again, but they were different. I had so many things left I wanted to do and kept trying, but it was getting pretty difficult. I finally took a bath, thinking it could help with back labor, and it was AWFUL! I lasted about two contractions and had to get out. I resorted to our room around 7pm and tried to sit on the ball and I extra hated that and had to stand up during the contractions.
I took a shower to use the heat on my back, spent way too long looking for something to wear, and then I tried to lean against the wall in bed with a tower of pillows and that wasn’t cutting it either. My midwife friend texted me at 7:50pm and asked if she could stop by, my response: “Please.” A doula friend said she would head over also. At 8pm I sat on the toilet and around 8:15 my birthy friends arrived and my mother-in-law came a few minutes later to help with the kiddos. I started to feel pushy at this time, but did not think it was time and was getting really mad that my body was pushing already. I was recognizing the sounds and my thoughts as transition, but could not convince myself that it was near time. I thought I had hours to go and kept saying, “I just need a nap,” or “I just want a break.” I decided to check my cervix, because I still believed it couldn’t possibly be time and felt something really strange!
At first I was completely panicked thinking it was the baby’s cord or something terribly wrong, and then I realized it was the baby’s head beginning to crown already! I said something out loud about the baby’s head being right there, I think mainly to reassure myself. I had a few more intense contractions, trying to breathe baby down, but found myself needing to push. Suddenly Tony and my friends were helping me off the toilet, because baby’s head was halfway out and they tried to help me deliver standing.
I was not comfortable at all, because I couldn’t relax my weight on them and ended up inches from my toilet squatting. With the next contraction I announced that my water had broken and baby’s head was out, which I only knew, because I reached down and could feel eyes and a nose. I really liked vocalizing everything for some reason! I waited for what felt like forever for baby’s body to be delivered. I didn’t want to rush anything, but the “ring of fire” was intense and I really couldn’t wait till it was over! I finally had that last contraction and the baby was here.
It took a minute for me to hold him, because his cord was around his neck three times…he had a crazy long cord! Tony said, “It’s a boy,” and I couldn’t believe I was a mama to three boys! I repositioned and was able to hold him and hear that first amazing cry. Only a few minutes later my placenta delivered, which was extremely surprising…I hadn’t even fully grasped the fact that my baby was in my arms and without trouble at all. My body did exactly what it needed to finish the birthing process. Kenna was the only child awake, so her and my mother-in-law came into see him. Kenna cut his cord and was so excited to have another brother, even though she had hoped for a sister. I love how loving she is, with no disappointment at all, just blessed to have another sibling, and I was so blessed to have her have a part in his delivery.
After all that, I got into a nice herbal bath and nursed him for the first time. Kenna helped get me some food and delivered it to me in the bath…I felt like a queen! I got dressed, and comfy in my bed where I ate fresh berries, peanut butter toast (at my request), and dark chocolate. We all guessed how much we thought he would weigh as we relaxed in my room: 8 pounds and 21 inches of perfection.
“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” -Ina May Gaskin
My name is Krista Parrilla and I am the mother of two beautiful babies.
My birth story will, hopefully, bring positive light to hospital births. Although, my birth was not planned to be in a hospital, but at home, it turned out the way I planned.
I knew my midwife personally. I was her son’s manager at a retail chain; she was the doula at the birth of my daughter and was more than patient when teaching my husband about birth. We went through the regular prenatal visits at her house and she came to my house to tell me that she would not provide care for the birth of my son due to weird complications and physical stress from my job. However, wherever I chose to go, she would be there for me and be my doula.
I was 40w and 5d (it was a Wednesday) pregnant when I first went into labor with my son. I called my doula and grabbed my bag and went to the hospital. The doctor said I was barely effaced and was only 3cm dilated. They wanted to pop the bag and get things rolling. I told them that I was happy to wait. I went home to sleep and eat.
Thursday, my mother-in-law kept my daughter, while my husband and I snuggled, were intimate, and relaxed, because I knew my son would be here soon. We took a walk. Then I went to get a pedicure and have that massage chair do some work – it did wonders for my preggo back. I returned home to lit candles and fantastic 80s music. We laid in bed and snuggled. I slept very little because the contractions started getting closer together.
Friday, I was up at 7am – which never happens. It was time. My MIL had a bowl of oatmeal ready for me, my daughter gave me snuggles, and I paid some bills while my husband was taking a shower. At 8:15am everything picked up way too fast. The contractions were coming every two minutes and it was getting difficult to concentrate on anything else. I got into the bathtub to refocus on what needed to be done. I had my husband call the doula, take the bags down to the car, and then help me get dressed.
In the car, I headed to the hospital with no underwear/bra and didn’t care. My husband managed to catch every red light and every bump there. I wanted to kill him.
We got there and the entire atmosphere changed for the positive. They put those awful elastic straps on me to monitor the baby. I asked the doctor if I could get them off and sit in the tub. THEY PUT ME IN A ROOM WITH A TUB!!! Oh, it was wonderful. Dr. Lady told me I could. I waddled my way to the tub and my doula showed up and turned some incense on and my husband massaged my shoulders. The nurse brought me a Sprite. It was nice. My contractions were strong and steady.
The only issue with my birth was I started having a panic attack after each contraction. The contractions eased me from the panic attack. Nobody knew why it was happening. It sucked – until my water broke! Once my water broke, everything became euphoric. I was 100% relaxed. The oxytocin did its job and the birth high started. I looked at everyone and told them it was time to have this baby. I got out of the tub – the water had become cold and I pooped in there (heh, don’t care). They walked me to the bed and once I got on the bed – on hands and knees – it was over and time to push. I don’t know how long it took, but it felt fast. My husband caught our son. It was beautiful. I was empowered. I did it. And it was a natural birth, happy experience, doctors and nurses followed my birth plan, and made it about the family in a hospital.
Second Photo by Blue Silk Photography
I was 38 weeks and 1 day, and it was it was 2:30am on the morning of my husband Jeremy’s birthday. I was trying to sleep when my cat, Sparky, crept up to me and purred as I patted her and she snuggled into my tummy. I adjusted my hips slightly and suddenly felt a ‘pop’ inside me. I jumped out of bed and, sure enough, felt the liquid that meant my waters had broken.
I stood at the end of the bed, and roused Jeremy. “Sorry, but I think we’ll be having this baby on your birthday,” I said. We had both agreed that this was the only day we didn’t want the baby to come, so Jeremy could still have one day that was just about him! I guess that was the first lesson – babies come when they are ready and he must have been ready!
Jeremy jumped up and found a pad for me. It was only a small amount of fluid, but it was enough for us to think that it might be a bit green. It was very pale and we weren’t really sure. We started getting a few things together and rang my mum at 3am to tell her to start heading down. She lives nearly two hours away and was our ‘plan A’ to care for our two year old, Jasper, in a very complicated list of alternative plans which depended on when and how I went into labour.
Things were very calm for us at home. I hadn’t had any contractions, just the occasional crampy feeling, much like a Braxton Hicks, but nothing I had to concentrate on at all. We left it a little while and rang our midwife, Jo, at about 3:45am. We let her know what had happened and that we thought the fluid may have been green, but we really weren’t sure. She asked us to come in to the hospital and meet her at 5am so she could check the fluid, just in case. We rang our neighbour, Mel, who was also part of ‘plan A’, so she could come and be in the house for Jasper, just until my mum arrived.
Before I left, I had some very, very mild tightening that I wouldn’t even classify as contractions – just a crampy feeling again, without much need to focus on them. I got a little teary with some mixed emotions when we left Jasper at home – his life was about to change in ways he couldn’t imagine and I felt sad for him knowing he would have to adjust to not being the baby of the family any longer, but also excited that he would have a little brother to share his adventures with.
We arrived at the hospital at 5am and walked into the examination room. Jo met us and asked me to lie down on the bed for 20 minutes so she could check if the fluid really was green. As soon as I lay down, the contractions began. They were immediately intense and extremely uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to move around and I really struggled to deal with the intensity of them just lying still.
After 20 minutes Jo checked and confirmed that the waters were green, which indicated they contained meconium, which can mean that the baby may be distressed. She also confirmed that I was 5cm dilated and would be having this baby soon.
I remember finally being able to roll onto my hands and knees and crying into the bed that I wasn’t ready. He was two weeks early and I just didn’t feel ready to deal with what lay ahead in the next hours, and the next months. Jeremy and Jo reassured me that I was ready and the next contraction came, which took all of my focus to deal with.
We agreed to head to a birth suite, but sadly, not the one with the new birth tub. I was meant to be one of the very first women to have a water birth in that hospital’s new purpose made baths, but because of the meconium, I wouldn’t be allowed to get into the water.
I was now having very strong and painful contractions which felt like they were very close together. No-one was timing them, but I could only take a few steps before another one would stop me in my tracks. I required extra monitoring, again because of the meconium, so on arrival at the birth suite I was fitted with a mobile monitor, so thankfully I could still move around. It was a little annoying though, because it wouldn’t stay in the right place, so Jo would have to readjust to make sure it was just the monitor and not a problem with the baby’s heart rate.
I was kneeling over the bed and really struggling with the pain. Jeremy was pressing a heat pack into my lower back, which helped a little, but any breathing I was doing wasn’t helping me at all. I felt like I was trying to escape from the pain in my body rather than breathing through the waves like I did in my first labour.
As per our ‘birth preferences,’ the midwives suggested sterile water injections. This worked almost instantly with my first labour and was well worth the intense stinging as the water was injected. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work at all. On reflection, the pain was very intense and all-encompassing, whereas in my first labour it was very specifically in my back.
We moved into the shower so I could have the hot water run on my back. This offered some relief, but I really wasn’t dealing well with the pain. I think maybe we had been in the hospital just over an hour. I spent some time trying to find a position that I could manage the pain in, but still felt like I was trying to get out of my body and away from the pain.
It was some time when I was in the shower that the baby’s heart rate dropped into the 90’s and stayed low for a while. There was some concern from Jo, but there were no suggestions to make any urgent changes. My waters seemed to break a second time around now – and not just a trickle like I had at home, either!
My body started feeling like I needed to push. Jo checked me and I was at about 8cm with a small lip of cervix. I tried as hard as I could not to push – such a challenge! My body was doing what it wanted to and I had to try with every ounce of my being to go against it. Jo managed to push back my cervix and I was able to work with my body and begin to push my baby out on the birth stool. His head very slowly emerged after only a few pushes. When the next contraction came, I pushed again, with all I had. But, my baby didn’t move. His shoulders were stuck.
The emergency buzzer was pressed and, within seconds, the room was full of people – more midwives, a paediatrician or two, and an obstetrician. It was quite amazing the speed at which they were able to get to me. All this time, I understood that he was stuck and I was watching Jo – her face was one of serious concentration, but certainly not panic, which I am grateful for.
Two midwives moved my legs up and back, into what’s called ‘The McRoberts manoeuvre’, while Jo manipulated the baby slightly, and I pushed with everything I had. Thankfully, this was enough, and out he came, with the cord around his neck. He was placed onto my chest, but I was told not to stroke or rub him (in case he startled and breathed in the meconium which may have been in his mouth). He was very floppy and not breathing or moving. Jo quickly cut the cord, and my baby was taken over to the table. The paediatrician intubated to remove any meconium from his throat, and placed the oxygen mask over his face. Jeremy and I were watching this happen and it felt like hours, but in reality was probably less than a minute. Suddenly Jeremy yelled out “He’s opened his eyes!” and we were both filled with relief as he started to cry. It was just before 7am.
Meanwhile, I had a minor haemorrhage and was given sintocinon to speed up the delivery of the placenta, which was slightly ragged. The bleeding abated and I was able to lie on the bed and my baby was given back to me for a skin to skin time. He was 9lb, 12oz!
I was shaking and felt quite shocked at how fast everything occurred and it probably took a good hour or two before those feelings began to subside and I was able to focus properly on our new son. He had been delivered less than two hours after arriving at hospital and having my first real contraction. What a birthday present for Jeremy! (And quite a surprise for his parents who rang a little later to wish him a happy birthday!)
We stayed in hospital to be monitored, but all was well, so we were able to go home the next day to begin life as a family of four. Three days later, our two year old son Jasper made the decision for us to name him Arlo Thomas.
Although pretty much nothing went according to my birth preferences, I always felt informed, supported and cared for by Jo and the rest of the team who helped to ensure he arrived healthy. I feel so lucky to have had such amazing care, especially in the public hospital system in Australia.
Final Photo by Shannon Langbecker