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Arlo’s Birth Story

Arlo’s Birth Story

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!)

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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.

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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.

shannonFinal Photo by Shannon Langbecker

“I Pooped My Baby Out on My Hands and Knees!” – My Birth Story Without Husband or Midwife

“I Pooped My Baby Out on My Hands and Knees!” – My Birth Story Without Husband or Midwife

I wanted to share with you the birth story of my second child, my daughter, Elizabeth Rose. The support and strength that I’ve gained from following you through social media these last two years, as well as attending two BWF conferences, helped get me through this sweet baby’s birth without my husband or my midwife. I never in a million years would have thought it was possible to do something so challenging without them both, but I did thanks to you. My mom had given me a Birth Without Fear Moon Over Maizes necklace when my son was one year old for Mother’s Day. Throughout the pregnancy of my second child I wore it often and towards the end of my pregnancy I wore it every day. It was a reminder to me that women all over the world give birth every day with strength and courage and that I could do that too. Little did I know how much I would need this extra boost of encouragement during the labor of my second child.birthalone1

My due date was June 17th. My husband’s nephew was getting married May 30th and my husband was a groomsman in the wedding. We decided that since it was still three weeks until baby’s due date (and since I went right on my due date with my first child), it was unlikely I would go into labor that early and we felt comfortable with my husband traveling six hours to attend the wedding. The weekend was approaching and I sent my friend this text on Thursday May 28th:

“Did I tell you Carl is going out of town Friday for his nephew’s wedding (he’s a groomsman)? I have this ridiculous overwhelming feeling that I’m going to have this baby while he is gone. It’s a six hour drive so he likely wouldn’t make it. I realize I’ll only be 37w3d this weekend…and the chances are SO slim…but I can’t help but worry!!! Please stay in baby!!!”

I had convinced myself that this fear was simply there, because it was a possibility, not because it was any type of “gut feeling” that something would happen. That Thursday evening, I went on a walk with my two year old son, my husband, and my mom. At one point during the walk I had a Braxton Hicks contraction that made me stop walking and I had to breathe through it. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks throughout pregnancy and this one felt different, but I didn’t put much stock into it. I just figured we were getting closer to 40 weeks and my body was just getting ready for labor in a few weeks. Good job body! Later that evening, while getting ready for bed, I had another Braxton Hicks that I felt in my lower back. I told my husband and we both thought it was weird, but we didn’t really consider it the start of labor or anything that we needed to cancel his trip over. Throughout the night I had a few more and noticed that the contractions were pushing on my bladder much more. They weren’t painful, but enough that I felt them when I was sleeping and I had to get up and pee a lot.

Friday morning I was feeling good and hadn’t noticed any contractions, so I went to work as normal and my husband left for his six hour drive north. I had a very busy morning of meetings and presentations, and didn’t notice too many contractions, but knew I had had some. Around 11:15, I was back at my desk and had one that I actually said, “OUCH,” out loud to. After this, I decided I probably should pay attention to my body (what a novel idea!) and see if I was having more contractions. I started tracking them while half attempting to work and they were coming about every 18 to 25 minutes. I set up some meetings with colleagues for the following week and sent a few emails. I called my husband just so he knew what was going on and even said, “I have no reason to believe this is actual labor. I very well could have these for a week before baby comes.” We agreed there still was no reason to have him come home (by this point he hadn’t yet made it to his destination but he was almost there). I told my husband I would keep track of them and call my midwives if I thought things were progressing.

I had lunch plans with two friends from work, both mothers themselves. At lunch, I told them I had been having what felt like contractions and had been keeping track of them. They were shocked I was still at work and as well at lunch with them, and provided the sound advice that I probably should call my midwives, because they were kind of consistent. We had a 1:30 meeting after lunch, so I said I would just call them after the meeting. They again gave me the sound advice that I needed to call before that. We returned to the office around 1:15 and I left a message to have a midwife call me. I went to our meeting at 1:30 and told my boss somewhat non-nonchalantly that I might have to step out and take a call as I might be in labor. After a look of somewhat surprise/somewhat confusion, he said, “Ok no problem,” and the meeting started. I continued to have contractions throughout the meeting, still about every 15 to 20 minutes. I could relax and breathe through them, and still managed to contribute some thoughts to the meeting. The whole time thinking, This isn’t real labor…my husband is out of town and I’m 3 weeks to my due date. I received a call back while I was still in the meeting and stepped out to speak to a nurse from my midwives’ office. The nurse had suggested that I go home, take a bath, and see if the contractions change. She said if they change/slow down/etc., then it’s probably not “true labor.” If the bath does nothing to my contractions, then it’s probably the real deal.

I headed home (which thankfully was my parents’ house at the time, whom we were living with while we were waiting to move into our new house) and took a bath in their large tub. I put on some relaxing classical music and got comfortable. I used my son’s Babyganics bubble bath, because I owned no adult bubble bath – I couldn’t even remember the last time I had taken a bath. During the 45 minute bath, I had two contractions that were getting a tad more intense than they had been, but the bath really helped to relax me. Upon standing up to get out of the bath, I had one more and this time I peed during it (only had a momentary concern it was my waters, but a quick color check in the water directed me to the proper conclusion that I did, indeed, pee myself). I remember with my son during contractions I had to pee during contractions in the early stages of labor. This is when I thought, Hmmm maybe this is real?

After the bath, I laid down before I had to go pick up my son from daycare. My contractions had slowed to about every 45 to 50 minutes. I excitedly thought this was a sign that it wasn’t real labor. I went to pick my son up from daycare around 5pm, continued to have contractions throughout picking him up, bringing him home, playing with him and feeding him dinner. My parents had dinner plans and had already left the house, so it was just me and my usually rambunctious two year old. He was as sweet and calm as could be that night, playing well by himself, and going to bed very easy. I was grateful for him to go to bed at 7:30 and immediately laid down myself in bed. I texted my husband and told him I was going to sleep and would wake up in the morning contraction free. Ha. In a way, I did. I fell asleep around 8pm and continued to have contractions while sleeping.

At 10pm I had a contraction strong enough and real enough that it got me out of bed. After contemplating ignoring it, I realized I needed to accept the fact that I was actually IN LABOR, as much as I still sort of thought it wasn’t real! I immediately called my midwife on-call service to leave a message and wait for their call back. In the meantime, I called my husband to tell him I needed him to come home. I felt awful and was crying that I was causing him to miss his nephew’s wedding and maybe it wasn’t real labor and we might not even have a baby that weekend. I spoke to his nephew on the phone, who of course understood and tried to calm me down. Of course my husband and his family were not concerned about him missing the wedding, after all this was A BABY!

Around 11pm, my husband began the six hour drive back home. I think at this point I was still sort of in denial, but knew I had to be serious about it all. I called my parents and told them to come home, I was in labor. I spoke to my midwife and told her what had gone on that day, and what was going on right now. She said to call her when I’m going to the hospital. I asked her when that should be (with my first they said contractions every five minutes lasting one minute, but with my 2nd baby one of my midwives told me to go when intensity changes)? The midwife on call (whom was newer to my practice and I had only ever met once) told me to go at five minutes apart. I thought that seemed odd and I should have reinforced with her that I had a eight hour labor with my first child, so this was likely to be just as short if not shorter…but again, I was a bit frazzled, being all alone in labor, without my husband, my teammate and my favorite ‘doula’ of sorts. The contractions at this point were still around eight to nine minutes apart, but the intensity was gaining.

For a while, I labored all alone in bed, on my hands and knees, which was the only position that felt good for my back labor and doubly helpful, because I could rest in between. During this time, I had a fleeting moment where I wanted to cry, not because of pain, but because I was all alone. I wanted my husband with me. I wanted to go hold my son for the last time before he was no longer an only child. I wanted to not be alone. I felt sorry for myself. Everything felt unfair. But during a particularly intense contraction, I looked down at the birth without fear necklace dangling and remembered that I could do this alone, and I would do it alone. I was strong and I could do anything for a minute at time. There was no time for crying or breaking down, my baby and body didn’t need that extra stress.

I gathered my composure and started adding things to my hospital bag that I had only started packing the night before. I went to my parents’ basement and carried up the infant car seat and base (poor decision now that I think about it, as I was still alone in the house). I checked in on my son and held back the tears as I watched his sleepy breaths and soft blond hair in the dark. He was going to be a big brother the next time I saw him and it was emotional. I put dry shampoo in my hair and deodorant on (because labor brain thought this was important?). I continued to labor alone until my parents arrived home and then my amazing mom (seriously, moms are amazing) laid in bed with me as I worked through each contraction and rested in between.

My husband had started out on the road and I was nervous that he would have to drive through the night. I made him promise to be safe and stop and rest. Around 2am the contractions started getting more intense and closer together – four to seven minutes apart. My mom said, “Maybe we should go,” and I said, “I really don’t want to get there, find out I’m only 3cm and have to walk around triage for an hour,” (which is what I had to do with my son). So we labored more at home in bed on my hands and knees.

After about ten more minutes and three more contractions, the last one that had me making all sorts of odd noises, I agreed with my mom that we should get going. I asked her to make sure to get the cooler for my placenta and we gathered up the rest of our stuff. I called my husband and he talked me through a few contractions I had on the phone with him. I stopped in the downstairs bathroom to take a selfie before heading out (why? labor brain thought it was an important moment to document and I’m so glad I did). I asked my mom to get a bucket for the car, because I was sure I was going to throw up. Before pulling out of the driveway at 2:15am, we took a picture together to remember this moment always. It’s the worst picture of our entire lives, but we are somehow smiling in it.birthalone2

Before we got out of the neighborhood, I had hit transition and began throwing up and then dry heaving. I was expecting this, as I also threw up during the birth of my first child during transition. It was around this time I was also telling myself, “It’s ok if you get an epidural, you’re husband is not here to help you through a natural birth and you can get one if you want.” I had a natural birth with my son and wanted one with this birth as well, but as transition goes, the doubt started setting in.

The drive to the hospital was about 25 minutes and I continued to work through contractions in the car. At one point I realized that I hadn’t heard back from my midwife, whom I called around 2am to let her know we were leaving for the hospital, so I called the on-call service again and they said they would page her again. She called me back immediately and I told her I was on my way, things were progressing quickly. She said after I get checked in triage they would let her know where I’m at then then she would come in. At this point, I should have thought to tell her that I was going to have this baby very, very soon, as I was already in transition, but again, labor brain. My husband would have been doing all the talking and probably would have told her that, but when you’re in hard labor and trying to have conversations that make sense, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.

I managed to give my mom directions to the medical campus, which we navigated to find the right parking garage, my mom dumped my bucket of puke out over the side (got yelled at by someone below who happened to see) and we made our way in. As we were pulling into the parking garage, I saw another pregnant woman and her husband getting out of their car and my first thought was, We have to beat her in. I can’t wait behind her at check in. She looked like she was feeling absolutely fine, while I was leaning on anything and everything (think disgusting parking garage trash cans, hand rails, etc) to work through contractions on my walk in.

Thankfully they stopped in the lobby to try to make a call and we caught an elevator before them. My ridiculous labor brain thought, Haha – we beat you! Arriving at check-in, I was grateful we had pre-registered and I only had two or three contractions while the nice old lady got me checked in, while hiding her concern that I was going to have the baby on her desk. They whisked me back to triage where I changed into my green pretty pushers gown I had won at my first BWF Columbus meet-up. The nurse said, “Are you ok getting that dirty?” I wanted to say “This isn’t my first time giving birth, lady.”

My mom helped me change into the gown and I went to the bathroom. Throughout laboring at home I had to pee and poop after almost every contraction for a good hour and I think this was my last “get it all out” bathroom trip. I had a contraction while on the toilet which was amazing, the amount of pressure that was taken off while sitting there, and then came out to get checked. The nice resident on call who was checking me gave me a towel to “cover myself up with,” because apparently I just got up on the bed and hiked up my gown. All I could do was laugh…I’m about to push a child out of my vagina in front of ten people and you want me to ‘cover up’ while you check me, sir? I was six cm dilated. To which I said, “Holy shit!” I then got on the bed on all fours while they monitored baby and continued to labor that way for a few minutes. They then told me it was real labor and I was ready to go to labor and delivery (well no shit!) and I asked where my midwife was. They said they called her and she was on her way.

They brought me a wheel chair and asked if I wanted to walk to the room or ride in the chair. The thought of sitting down was excruciating and I was pretty sure I couldn’t walk at this point without the baby falling out. I stood up out of bed to try to lean against the wheel chair and had a huge contraction where I opened my legs and the nurse grabbed me and said, “Get on the bed and lay down!” I said, “NO! I’m not lying down; please let me get through it this way!” She said, “I don’t want a baby falling out on the floor,” to which I said, “No baby is going to fall out on the floor!!!” Then she left me alone and let me labor leaning my elbows against the bed.

After that contraction, I got back on the bed on hands and knees and told them I needed to start pushing. I remember this exact feeling with my son, but at the time I wasn’t as confident. This time, I knew it was time to push and this baby was coming. They flipped the side rails up on the triage bed, and about six of them surrounded the bed and ran me down the hall with my ass up in the air while I was on all fours. I remember feeling a strong wind on my face as they were running and it felt really good.

The second we got in the room, I looked at the bed they wanted to transfer me to and I said, “NOPE I’M PUSHINNNNGGGG!!!!” I grabbed on to the front rails the bed and pushed my baby out in one very hard push, accompanied by a bellowing scream from me and a gush of fluids. I completely couldn’t believe it. I kneeled there, stunned, not having seen my baby yet, but knowing I pushed something out. I kept saying, “Did that just happen? Did I just push my baby out? Is that my baby crying?” They told me, “It’s a girl,” born at 3:24 (only 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital) and I was completely shocked and overwhelmed.

I always envisioned myself as a mom of all boys and I couldn’t believe (in the best way possible) I had a little daughter. Our birth plan included delayed cord clamping, but at this point I think the only person who had a chance to look at our birth plan was the triage nurse, so the resident began to cut the cord immediately. I remember my mom trying desperately to yell out different wishes to the doctors and nurses. “Delayed cord cutting!” “Immediate skin to skin!” “No eye stuff!” “Save the placenta!”

It was part terrifying, part heartwarming. Baby girl had a true knot in her cord, and the resident explained that when this happens they like to cut the cord right away. If my husband was there he would have advocated for more information from my midwife, but since both were missing, I agreed to have the cord cut and my mom was able to do that. I was still on my hands and knees at this point, desperate to get a look at my baby girl. While they cleaned us both up a bit, my mom was yelling, “No! Put the baby on her chest, don’t take her away!” We both didn’t realize how tiny she was. They told us with babies that small they need to check them right away. They checked her and she was 4 lbs 4 oz of perfection, so they brought her back to me immediately and we did skin to skin. I remember her hair was covered in vernix and it appeared dark and curly, just like my husbands was when I met him in college. At this point, they were working hard to help me deliver my placenta, because I was bleeding a lot. I told them I wanted a natural placenta delivery and they said with all the bleeding they were trying to help it along gently – I remember them pushing on my abdomen and wondering if the midwife was there if anything would be different.

I wasn’t upset or angry, just disappointed that I didn’t have the advocacy I so desperately wanted and trusted. Baby girl latched a few times while on my chest and the placenta eventually came out naturally. “Save the placenta! She’s going to encapsulate it!” my mom yelled again. Bless her heart. I think I asked the resident five times if I tore, and he said every time, “Nope, you look great,” and I was so appreciative of his overly nice description of the completely wrecked and bloody mess between my legs.

The residents attempted to clean me up the best they could, as I continued to bleed a lot. They ended up giving me a shot of Pitocin in my leg. During all of this, I hadn’t had an IV line yet, because everything happened so fast – so while holding my fresh babe on my chest, I remember the nurses working for 15 minutes to find a good vein in my hands for the line. The pricking and failing was almost more painful than childbirth – I was extra sensitive due to my state of exhaustion and losing blood. They finally gave up for a bit and another nurse came in and was able to get the line in – I was given Pitocin through the line for the bleeding as well.

At some point during all of this I called my husband and said, “It’s a girl!!” He couldn’t believe it either. I also told him, “I just pooped her out on my hands and knees in one push!” which he loves to tell people to this day that I “pooped out” my daughter. I must have called him before knowing her birth weight, because when I texted him her stats later he was very worried due to her size. Thankfully, the only thing she needed was a little warmth from the nursery, because skin to skin with me wasn’t getting her temp up enough. Later that night I found out if we need her temp up, just to do skin to skin with dad, because he practically cooked her. Another reason I hated him not being there at birth was to do skin to skin when I couldn’t.birthalone3

Thankfully my husband was able to stop and rest after I gave birth so that he could continue his drive home. He finally made it to the hospital at 11:30am to meet his baby girl and I’ll never forget for the entire first few minutes of his meeting her, the staff came in to take my lunch order and was asking me all sorts of questions: “Do you want fruit or yogurt with that,” “Do you want juice or water to drink?”….I could hardly answer their questions, because I was trying to soak in the memory of my husband and his little girl’s first encounter.

At this point I realized nothing is perfect and the entire experience was nothing like I imagined it would be, so all I could do was laugh. My husband missed it, my midwife missed it; I didn’t get to use the labor water tub I so badly wanted, and so on.birthalone4

Ultimately, I was so incredibly proud of baby and myself – we worked together as a team and I truly was able to birth without fear. I am forever grateful that she knew it was time to come meet me and get the nourishment she needed from my milk that she was no longer getting through her knotted cord. We were discharged two days later and baby had only lost 2oz. She continued to amaze me with her strength and determination in the weeks following, nursing like a champ and gaining 1 to 2 lbs. per week. Now, at a whopping 9lbs at two months old, she is the song our hearts never knew it needed.

Without the BWF movement, I’m fairly certain that I would have been a disaster during the birth of my baby girl, but from reading these amazing birth stories from other moms on your blog and following your support and inspiration through FB and IG and attending BWF meet ups, I had the strength I needed to birth my baby regardless of the circumstances. I am forever grateful for what you do for women and families everywhere, January. I can’t wait for my next birth experience, whatever hurdles that may throw at me. Next time, my husband is on house arrest until baby arrives, and I’ll inform all six of my midwives how quickly my babies arrive. First I just have to convince my husband we need a third.

I Am Strong – Because of Hudson

I Am Strong – Because of Hudson

I am strong, because I was told I would never have children.
I am strong, because I have Endometriosis, PCOS, and Lupus.
I am strong, because in 2013 I became pregnant.
I am strong, because throughout my pregnancy I was hospitalized numerous times for problems stemming from lupus.
I am strong, because a week before my due date I had to be induced.
I am strong, because after 36 hours of labor I gave birth to my healthy baby boy, Hudson.
I am strong, because I breastfed for as long as I could before having to go back on medication to control my lupus.
I am strong, because I suffered from severe postpartum depression and being unable to breastfeed impacted that severely.
I am strong, because six months after having my child, a child that I thought would never be, I was told I needed a hysterectomy.
I am strong, because in December of 2014, eight months after giving birth to my miracle baby, I had a total hysterectomy.
I am strong, because I will never feel another kick in my belly or the gnawing anticipation of meeting the miracle that’s been growing inside me for nine months. I will never again get to experience the beauty of giving birth.
I am strong, because I have every single reason to be strong and never give up.
I am strong, because of Hudson.

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Finding Healing in a C-Section

Finding Healing in a C-Section

My story really begins with my first two babies’ births. When I was about 37 weeks, we found out our first little girl was breech. We had planned a natural birth with Hypnobabies and midwives at the best hospital in our area, so to hear she was breech was crushing. We started doing everything we could to turn her around, but she did not want to turn. The chiropractor who did our Webster technique attempts was even concerned about her because she was SO chill after every appointment. After a lot of prayer, we decided that she must have a reason and felt that a C-section would be the safest way to go. When we met with the OBGYN that would be taking over our care, he was very good, but his bedside manner was awful. We brought a birth plan to discuss with him, and he completely belittled every choice we had made for her, made me feel like an idiot to the point that I didn’t even bring my birth plan when it was time.

We scheduled the C-section, after praying about when our little girl should be born, we scheduled for a Saturday at 38 weeks 5 days, and went home to get ready. The night before, I stayed awake until 2AM, so I could eat the last time before the surgery, but wasn’t hungry so only was able to eat a few crackers before going to bed. 3:30AM. I woke up to go to the bathroom and started having contractions that were lasting one minute, spaced two minutes apart, so they were coming really hard and fast, and since my mother had experienced a 15 minute labor with me, we knew we needed to hustle to the hospital.

They checked us in, got my IV, etc. then left me alone with my husband to wait. They had me signing paperwork through contractions and I was so miserable, but then they left me alone with the monitors, and all my husband did was stare at them. I felt pretty darn alone at this point, even though my husband was right there. What felt like years later, they finally came and took me back to the OR, gave me the spinal, and brought my husband in.

As they worked, the doctor completely ignored me, but did make two funny comments: “Wow, she is REALLY breech,” (apparently she had dug into my ribs as high as she could go) and second: “We’ve got a pooper!” She started pooping as soon as her butt hit the air. She didn’t cry at first, so we didn’t even know she had been born until the nurse came and asked if my husband wanted to see our baby. I got to see her for a minute before they left, then I was alone again, surrounded by people, but no one really seemed to actually remember that the body they were stitching back together was an actual person.

I didn’t get to see her for two hours after she was born. I still don’t know why, they just had me sitting in my room while I hung out with my good friend in recovery, but they ignored my requests to see her. When I did finally see her, she wasn’t interested in feeding or anything, but we were so in love.

Over the next three days, I felt ignored and manipulated by both the doctor and the hospital staff, even going so far as telling the nurses no outright and having them completely ignore me as I cried. It was a very hard recovery for me, and anytime I talked about it I felt alone, because that was how I was made to feel from the moment we found out she was breech.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years later, and we were expecting our second little girl. This time we planned a homebirth. I refused to feel that way again, and I didn’t. My midwife made me feel cared about. She came at 42 1/2 weeks (thanks to some family drama stresses). It was a long and hard labor, but my husband was there for me the whole time, supporting me. When she was crowning, my body got a huge contraction I couldn’t get control over, which shot her completely out, causing a 4th degree tear with spider web tears. It took two hours to stitch me up, and the last ten or so stitches I was no longer numb, so I felt each and every one. On top of this, my uterus refused to contract afterwards and stop bleeding, so I spent the next several hours with the midwife’s assistant on top of me, her fist ‘massaging’ my uterus. I ended up with a slow hemorrhage, which made it so I couldn’t even walk for the first week, because I was so weak. All the complications were traumatic and I decided I couldn’t do that again. Then, on top of all of that, I developed a bad blood clot two weeks after having her, so ended up in the emergency room to clear it, and needing blood thinners for any additional pregnancies from there on.

Despite being supported, I still felt extremely traumatized from my second birth.

18 months after my 2nd was born, I got my first period (yay breastfeeding). Surprisingly though, my next period didn’t show up and we found out that I was once again pregnant. The anxiety over it was crushing, and I knew that I could not handle another vaginal birth, so we began searching for a doctor to do a gentle repeat C-section.

This pregnancy was extremely hard on me. I didn’t really get morning sickness, but I struggled with debilitating dizziness and blacking out. We ended up finding out that I was struggling with a condition where my blood would pool in my legs and cause my blood pressure to drop 30 points when I was standing so I would black out, and fall. It was very hard to be the mother to two little girls through this, but my husband stepped up to help, and we were able to manage. To add to this, however, we ended up having to sell our home and move out of state a month before baby was due.

We found an OBGYN that would take me so late in the pregnancy, and worked on getting our new home ready to meet our newest family member. Because of the previous blood clot and being on blood thinners, I was high risk, so I had to see a high risk doctor as well as my OBGYN. During the routine appointment with the high risk doctor, we found out that my platelet count was low. This was concerning, because it meant I couldn’t have a spinal or epidural. I was concerned about how this would affect my birth, scared of the idea of being asleep and missing my baby’s birth, but after praying, we again felt that this was the safest option for me for this baby’s birth. We hoped my numbers would go up, but came to terms with the possibility that we would need general anesthesia.

The big day finally came, and we went in to the hospital, got blood drawn to check platelets one last time, IV started, paperwork signed. We all held our breath, waiting for the platelet count to come back, and to meet with the anesthesiologist to see what our birth would be. When the numbers came back, it was disheartening. They had dropped from 82 to 74, risking me out of a spinal. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to us, and started trying to figure out how to tell us that he felt the general would be safest. I cut him off and told him that if he felt that was the safest option for me, that I support his decision and do it. He was really happy to hear that; he had expected a fight.

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They got me a wheel chair and wheeled my into the OR, put me on the table, and got me all prepped. Everyone was apparently in awe of me, because I was making jokes and making everyone around me laugh. I guess they expected me to be more afraid, but prayer had given me the peace I needed to know everything was going to be alright; I wasn’t scared. Finally they put the gas mask on me and I went to sleep.

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When I woke up, they were wheeling me out of the OR. They were all telling me about my little guy, how he had monkey toes and a huge head. I had to be in recovery for a little while, but the nurses kept coming and updating me on his progress, how he was doing. The anesthesiologist even came by to tell me how great everything went, made me feel like I was actually cared about. Finally I was able to go back to my room to see my baby. He latched on perfectly as soon as I had him in my arms, impressing all the nurses.

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The greatest blessing from the whole experience is I didn’t have a single nurse that pushed me to do anything. When I wasn’t well enough to start standing, they let me take my time. When my bleeding wasn’t slowing as quickly as they thought, they made sure to take extra precautions to make sure I wasn’t going to keep bleeding. They respected me and my choices for our care, listened to all my concerns. Most people wouldn’t feel empowered or healed with general anesthesia, but I was, despite not having my baby skin to skin in the OR, my choices were respected, my voice was heard.

I Am Strong – VBAC Without Fear

I Am Strong – VBAC Without Fear

There are a number of reasons why I am strong.

At 17 I became pregnant. At three months pregnant and only a few weeks after my 18th birthday, my daughter’s father threw me out. I felt like garbage – abandoned and alone. How would I raise a child just out of high school?

I am strong because I picked myself up by my boot straps, got a full-time job working nights, went to school full-time, and made myself believe I was enough, more than enough, to leave the mentally abusive man who had left me and his seed.

Two months later (and after many turn downs) I finally went on a date with a regular customer. I had no idea what the future held, but if a man was that persistent about dating me – pregnant, young, little ole me – maybe it was worth a shot.

Fast-forward four more months: I was told my daughter was big and I would be too small to go into labor naturally. I had been borderline with pre-eclampsia for months and trusted that induction at 39 weeks would save me and baby a lot of troubles. All the while, this loving, patient, persistent man stood by my side and held my hand. I am strong because I endured having my waters ruptured, Pitocin, and horrible, painful contractions for three hours before giving in to an epidural, and later having a cesarean at 18 hours in. My perfect, little 7 lb. baby was here.

I didn’t know my options and my recovery was miserable. I didn’t leave the house. I couldn’t walk for more than ten minutes for roughly three months, and I felt as though my birth was robbed of me. I was depressed. I knew PPD was a thing, but given my history of depression and anxiety I knew I had to overcome this. Pills weren’t an option for me since I was breastfeeding (I refused). The love from my man and daughter were enough. I am lucky to have pulled through it by love alone, but I did it, because I am strong.

During this time was when I found Birth Without Fear. Oh, January, if you only knew how you impacted my life! Through your posts I began arming myself with knowledge and information. I knew what I wanted with my future births. I am strong, because you are strong.

18 months later, my little one was growing more independent by the day. I longed for the feeling of being needed 24/7 again. Though we weren’t exactly trying to conceive, we weren’t trying to prevent it either. Just before Easter we found out we were pregnant! My little one had self-weaned abruptly and I knew something had to be going on! I am strong, because I faced this pregnancy with options; I was empowered and ready to take this journey head-on!

I knew from day one that I had to build the perfect birth team. I started interviewing doulas. This led me to finding a chiropractor specializing in Webster technique. Come to find out, I wasn’t incapable of having babies naturally, nor was my daughter “too big”. I had an anterior tilting pelvis. I hired a doula, the ever sweet Deanna Norris (@holisticbirthingservices), and began driving 35 miles to the chiropractor three times a week! I live in a very small, rural town, so my only option was to drive an hour for the care I needed with the best midwives the state has to offer at OU Medical Center in downtown Oklahoma City. I am strong, because I was armed and ready for whatever was coming my way.

My pregnancy was wonderful – smooth and humbling. I fought a lot of fears with the help of D. I embraced the birth of my firstborn and learned to be at peace with it. I talked to the moon a lot and fell in love with meditation. The person I was becoming was unlike any person I had ever been. I had found myself – humble, peaceful, and strong. I am so strong.

In early November my daughter fell terribly ill and was admitted to the hospital. My due date was only weeks away and I was terrified that the stress I was under would throw me into labor. One late night I was having a hard time resting (who CAN rest in those awful hospital beds?) and began having sharp contractions. I woke my mother to sit with my daughter while I showered. Luckily that put me back at ease. November 16th (my EDD) came and went. Fear began to brew within me. However, I am strong and knew my little bundle of blue joy would be here when he was good and ready.

Prodromal labor began around November 18th. I’m sure I was on the verge of pre-labor a few times, but as soon as my daughter would wake things would slow down. November 20th I went in to schedule some NST and a possible induction, one day before 42 weeks. I had no intentions of showing up and they knew that, but we were simply following protocol. I declined the stretch and sweep, but had my midwife check for dilation. She left the room and I began to get dressed. As I squatted to pull my pants up, it happened. My worst fear – my water had ruptured BEFORE active labor. I was hesitant to go straight to L&D. I didn’t want to be put on the clock. But who was I kidding? I was flowing like a river. No way could I go walk around Target until labor really kicked in. I put my best brave face on, called my doula (who was with a mother having her baby a little early) and reminded myself that I Am Strong.

I won’t go in to all the details, but after about five hours of labor (I had no clock or windows, therefore no track of time) my midwife discovered baby had had a bowel movement. Though she was concerned, she only monitored us a little closer. I walked, I showered, I sang “You Are My Sunshine” while swaying through contractions 1,000 times, squatted, groaned, breathed…all un-medicated. 14 hours in, fear came knocking. The midwives had switched for the day and the new one was a little less than pro-VBAC. She immediately started talking cesarean if this this and that didn’t go as she would like it. I needed this VBAC. I knew I could do it; I Am Strong.

I asked for an epidural to help me relax and it did…for my left side! I could still wiggle my toes and scoot my legs, but this only benefited me. My doula, mother, and sweet man helped me use a peanut ball. 24 hours was creeping on me and I was dreading what would soon happen to me. I couldn’t give up now. I thought about it, I even almost told my doula to go get the OBs to take me back, but I resisted. D rubbed lavender on my legs and we laughed and talked. Then, it was time. Like magic, I transitioned. At this point we were 22 hours into labor and thankfully the midwife was busy in other births. I had a nurse come and check me and sure enough – 9 centimeters. I went on to have my VBAC on the evening of November 21st. It wasn’t “easy” and it came with some scars, but as soon as that 8 lb. 16 oz., blue-eyed, spitting image of his daddy laid on my chest, I knew it was all true…I was strong and I will always be strong – for my children, for my soon-to-be husband, for my peers, and for myself.

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We are strong. We are designed to be powerful beyond our understanding. We can do any and everything we set our minds to. Thanks a million to D, January, and Lauren for educating me and pushing me – even when you didn’t know you were. Here’s to all the mommas who think they can’t. I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN. #vbacwithoutfear

 

Sweet Ellie-Boy

Sweet Ellie-Boy

We discovered we were pregnant with you in November of 2014. Your sister was to be turning two years old then and although we had been determined for her to be an only child, we were excited to be bringing you into the world.

Our joyousness was quickly squashed by fears from the outcome of our last pregnancy. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I had a rough time for the first eight months of your sister’s life. I had insane amounts of anxiety and insomnia as a result. Once I found myself again, I vowed to avoid pregnancy for all eternity!

Then, you came along. I tried my hardest to ignore the feelings and fears in the beginning of my pregnancy. It took so much work, but I finally let go and let God. I told your daddy that this time was going to be different. I was going to do everything opposite of what I did with your sister’s birth.

I started off with my regular OB/GYN, but decided if I truly wanted to have an easier delivery and postpartum journey I would need to change everything. Plus, my OB made fun of me for wanting to encapsulate my placenta and guaranteed me I would have PPD. I placed a call to the only birth center I knew of in the area and made my first appointment with a midwife at 18 weeks pregnant.

My midwife assured me I had made the right choice and I agreed. I knew I had, because I was overcome with a strength I never knew existed within me. I had the most wonderful midwife and the most supportive family.

I ordered books about natural birth and devoured them quickly. After I finished each one I was filled with immense amounts of courage knowing thousands of women had done it this way before me. Your daddy and I practiced daily on techniques and talked about our hopes and dreams of how your birth would go.

My pregnancy flew by and before I knew it I was 37 weeks pregnant. We were so excited we made it this far and knew meeting you was just around the corner. At 38 weeks I started trying everything I could to meet you earlier. If it was on Google, I did it. Walking, bouncing, stretching, adjustments, acupressure, labor cookies, and labor tea to name a few! Everyone was so excited to meet you.

My 40 week appointment came and went. I avoided vaginal checks, but was getting anxious to know how far along I was. I was also nervous I would go way past my due date and need a hospital induction. I was determined more than ever to get you going! Finally, at 40 weeks and five days I started having regular contractions.

The day started out like any other day. Your sister and I enjoyed breakfast together and hung out at home. I remember feeling incredibly tired that day and sad. I was sad that you hadn’t arrived yet, sad that these were the last few days I was getting with your sister, sad I might end up in the hospital. Daddy was working late, so your sister and I watched movies and built animals and boats with K’nex. Daddy got home with dinner and your sister and I took a bubble bath together.

That evening, after we put sissy to bed, I started feeling cramps. We lay on the couch together and watched TV. Your daddy fell asleep on the couch, but I couldn’t take my mind off of the contractions I was now having. I tried walking and going to the bathroom, but they didn’t stop. They were about seven to ten minutes apart and not painful, so I just tried to relax.

Over the next hour I had some more intense contractions. I got so excited I woke your daddy up by jumping on top of him. We decided to go to bed and get some sleep, knowing this might be the last good sleep we would get for a while!

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I couldn’t sleep. I stared at the ceiling and kept checking the time on my phone. I finally decided to time my contractions since they were about five to seven minutes apart at this point. I got up and went to the restroom and called my mom. Afterwards, I decided to call my midwife to let her know what was going on. She told us to labor at home for a while until my contractions were three to four minutes apart.

I started to run a bath, but the contractions were getting intense. They were getting painful and I couldn’t talk through them any longer. We continued to time my contractions which were finally three to four minutes apart. We called my midwife again who told us to come on in to the center. We called family to come to the house to stay with your sister and called our parents to meet us at the birth center.

About 20 minutes later we were finally on our way. Your daddy was speeding down the road so fast that a policeman pulled us over. We told him where we were headed and he waived us on our way! I had contractions every two to three minutes during that car ride. We finally made it and got ourselves set up in our birthing room. For the first time in my entire pregnancy I was finally checked. My midwife told me I was five centimeters dilated with a bulging bag of waters! I was elated to find out I was halfway done. The hardest part was still to come.

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I labored on a birthing ball for a good hour, holding on to your daddy’s neck. The midwife pressed my hips together to relieve some pressure. The lights were dimmed and I could hear my calming playlist in the background. I stood up to walk around the room and suddenly felt nauseous. I knew I was transitioning to the final phase before I would meet you! Your Nana held peppermint oil underneath my nose to help relieve the nausea and your Mimi replaced cold rags on my head.

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I finally got in the tub and labored in different positions. Contractions were coming nonstop and were incredibly painful. The water helped to relax me and breathing techniques helped take the edge off of the pain. My instincts took over and my body decided it was time to push. All of a sudden my water broke with what felt like a miniature explosion! I rolled over onto my bottom and decided it was time to get you out!

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Your daddy held my hand while your nana sat behind me holding my other hand. I squeezed your Nana’s hand so hard I tore the tendons in her hand! I felt a big contraction coming and I pushed! Out came your head! I asked daddy what color your hair was, but he couldn’t see yet. One more push and out slid the rest of your body.

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Next thing I knew you were on my chest – all blue and beautiful! You were born on August 11, 2015 at 3:26AM, weighing 7 lbs. 11oz. and 19.5 inches long. Our labor was a total of six hours long! We cuddled, took a sitz bath and cuddled some more! A new day began with a new beautiful baby boy! We named you Elliot, but you’re our sweet little Ellie-boy!

The Birth of Scarlet Noelle

The Birth of Scarlet Noelle

Throughout my pregnancy I had to get ultrasounds every week with my maternal fetal medicine doctor. It’s what happens when you’ve had two beautiful, stillborn little girls: one at 23 weeks and the other at 32 weeks, both due to a rare blood clotting disorder known as Factor II. The ultrasounds were always my saving grace. I got to see my beautiful girl and know right then at that very moment, she was ok.

This past Tuesday started off just like any other day. I got up and headed out the door to see my maternal fetal medicine doctor. When I got there the tech did the ultrasound, said everything looked great, and then put me in the NST room…which was odd. They don’t put you in the NST room unless something is wrong. Her excuse was that the other rooms were full, but I knew something was up. A few minutes later the specialist came in and said that during the ultrasound Scarlet’s heartbeat dropped down between 108 and 117. Her heartbeat is normally 135 to 145. Not a HUGE deal, but with my history they wanted to be extra careful. I was hooked up to the NST monitors and kept on them for about 15 minutes.

During this time I was having mild contractions every four to five minutes. Again, not a big deal; I’d been having them since 34 weeks. The specialist came back to check on me and said the heartbeat was still dipping during contractions and that she had to send me to the hospital for monitoring, except I had to go to their hospital. I wasn’t even allowed to drive to mine, a mere 20 minutes away.

From there she started to talk of an emergency C-section and told me I wasn’t allowed to drink or eat anything, including water, and that’s when freak out mode kicked in and tears ensued. C-sections? What? You’re telling this natural, un-medicated birthing momma she might have to get major surgery! The birth I had been dreaming of for years was quickly flying out the window and I was doing my best to wrap my mind around things and come to terms with it all. Before I knew it, I was being walked over and admitted to the hospital. By then I had called a friend to pick up my husband and bring him over to be with me.Collage1

 

While waiting for Erik, the nurse checked me. It was around 3pm and I was 3cm and 70% effaced. Erik showed up and after an hour of monitoring they said I could eat something “light”. I had a chicken Caesar salad and a chocolate chip cookie. Ahmazing! Then a total of eight hours went by and I started really pushing for them to let me go to my hospital and be with my midwife. They were being stubborn, but all it took was one call to my midwife and I was being brought discharge papers 20 minutes later.Collage2

 

Once we left that hospital we stopped at Mellow Mushroom to pick up a pizza. I was still having the same contractions I had been getting since I got to 34 weeks. Erik and I were convinced that when I got to my hospital they would either keep me over night for monitoring and send me home the next day, or induce me to go ahead and have the baby. Boy, were we in for a surprise!scarlet8

 

We got there and they had reserved the biggest room for us. Yay for awesome labor and delivery nurses! My friend Emily met us at the hospital and brought me a HUGE basket of cloth diapers and other beautiful gifts. I was floored by all the love and filled with excitement. Shortly after Emily got there, my friend Mary Anne showed up to take birth photos. She is so sweet and I am so happy she got to be there for Scarlet’s birth.scarlet9

 

A few minutes later my midwife came in to check me and sweep my membranes. She checked me at 8:30pm and I was 4cm, 90%, and with a bulging bag. After sweeping my membranes the contractions instantly got stronger. At that time Emily’s doula had come up to be with me…for free! What a blessing she was! She advised Erik and I to walk around the hospital a few times to keep things going. Then we did lunges and some acupressure.scarlet10

 

Before I knew it I was squatting during contractions and having to breathe through them, but they still didn’t hurt terribly. It wasn’t until I got a contraction that made me feel like I was going to poop and vomit at the same time that I thought, Oh crap, I’m about to have a baby. Usually when I get the urge to vomit it means transition is coming soon and sure enough, the midwife checked me and I was 6cm and fully effaced. I asked that they fill up the tub. I knew the next part would go fast.scarlet11

 

I got in the tub and it was AMAZING! It felt so good and eased the pain of the contractions. During each contraction my doula was putting counter pressure on my lower back. Let me just tell you, counter pressure is a God send! I will never have another birth without it or without a doula, for that matter. I’m not sure how long I was in there laboring before my water broke, but it broke and all of a sudden I wanted to know what time it was. All my babies have been born sometime between one and three, so I was curious when Scarlet would make her arrival. What do you know?scarlet12

 

A few contractions later and she was born at 2:57am. Her cord was very short, and my midwife said it was probably the reason for her heartbeat dip during contractions. I held her, cried, laughed, and just stared at her. I remember saying, “I didn’t think this day would ever come.” and “Oh my God, we have a little girl; a real live baby!” I could hear the tears and joy around me. It was the perfect moment.scarlet13

I held her and Erik talked to her over my shoulder. After about 15 minutes I had Erik cut the cord, because it was so short I could barely keep Scarlet above the water. He cut it and I handed her to the nurse while I got out and went to lie in the bed and deliver the placenta. A few minutes later I pushed the placenta out and that was that.

The birth was 100% done. No tears, no stitches or anything! They weighed Scarlet and she was 6lbs 2oz and 19in long at 37 weeks 4 days! My sweet Rainbow baby girl is finally here and I am in awe at how blessed I am to have her.

Photography by Mary Anne Morgan Photography.

Birthing Hope

Birthing Hope

This is the story of the second time I gave birth; the first time I gave birth naturally.

Looking back, I don’t know whether to describe my labor as long or short.

Hope Noel was born early on Sunday morning, December 16, 2012. I started having contractions the Wednesday evening before. They were fairly regular for several hours, but fizzled out when I went to bed. I had contractions off and on all day Thursday, but, again, they fizzled out when I went to bed. Friday morning I went to my chiropractor for an adjustment to try to help things along. I spent a lot of time doing salsa circles on the exercise ball that afternoon to help Hope get into a good position. I had a lot of contractions Friday evening. So much so, that we sent our 20 month old son, William, to spend the night with Michael’s parents, because I really thought we would be headed to the hospital at some point. My contractions slowed down when we went to bed, picked back up again around 4am, and then stopped around 10am.

I took advantage of William being with his grandparents, though. I rested, watched TV, tried to relax, and spent more time on the exercise ball. William came home later in the afternoon and we spent a fun evening together as a family with lots of rolling around on the floor, laughing, tickling, reading books, and building block towers for William to gleefully knock down. While we were playing, I started noticing contractions picking back up and growing a little more painful. Michael went to pick up dinner while I bathed William and put him to bed. Contractions became increasingly regular, five to seven minutes apart, by eight o’clock Saturday evening. Michael and I ate dinner, watched some TV, and I took a shower and finished packing my hospital bag. Then, we set up camp in our bedroom. I made myself comfortable on the exercise ball, leaning over the foot of the bed onto some pillows to rest. We turned off the lights, watched some more TV, and waited to see what would happen. Michael’s parents came over around ten to stay the night at the house in case we needed to head to the hospital.

I called my doula around midnight. I wasn’t having trouble managing the contractions on my own yet, but they were getting more intense and I wanted to make sure she was there when I needed her. I also didn’t think the contractions were as strong as they should be and wanted to see if she could try some things (robozo, different positions, etc.) that might help move things along. She brought such a calm presence with her when she came into the house. Knowing that she and Michael were close by, even if they weren’t saying anything, made me feel so comfortable and taken care of. Jenni applied heat to my low back, massaged my shoulders, and affirmed what I was already doing: trying to relax and not resist what my body was doing. My contractions were four minutes apart at that point.

At 1:30 I was starting to feel tired. Mostly my legs were tired, since I had been standing and kneeling for several hours. I decided to lie down for a few contractions and rest. The first contraction I had while lying down was the turning point in my labor. Through all the previous contractions I had felt completely in control. I had no trouble staying on top of them, breathing through them, and relaxing, but this one was different. It hit me hard. It took my breath away. I also felt a slight “pop” during the contraction that, in hindsight, was my water breaking. I didn’t feel any fluid at the time (I had on a pad and thick yoga pants) so, even though I wondered if my water had broken, I didn’t say anything. As if I could have said anything. I couldn’t breathe!

Jenni encouraged me to get up, that lying down was generally the worst position for managing contractions. They started to come much closer together at that point. I felt completely overwhelmed by them. I knew I wanted to head to the hospital, but I kept that to myself for a while. I had intended to labor at home as long as possible and I was sure it was too soon. After a while, though, I didn’t care. The thought of enduring the drive to the hospital was becoming increasingly horrifying. I wanted to go. Jenni and Michael both tried to stall a bit and encouraged me to stay at home a bit longer. Based on the my contractions up until that point, Jenni thought I was probably five to six centimeters dilated and was worried that if we got to the hospital too soon I would be tempted to get an epidural. I agreed with her. I was sure it was too soon, but I wouldn’t change my mind. I wanted to go.

It probably took 30 minutes to put our things in the car and get me loaded up. I was only able to take a few steps between each contraction before I had to stop and breathe through the next one. Jenni heated me two rice socks, one for my stomach and one for my back, to help with some pain relief during the car ride. It was about 2:30 when we left the house.

The ride to the hospital was probably the longest (and, most definitely, the worst) 15 minutes of my life. It felt like Michael was driving ten miles per hour and it felt like I was being split open from the inside. I remember being so annoyed with Michael’s driving, thinking, You speed all the time, but you can’t bring himself to pick up the pace when your wife is in labor?!?! I started to feel an increasing amount of pressure, which I attributed to sitting down in the car. Michael tells me that I handled the car ride really well, but I felt totally out of control and completely at the mercy of what my body was doing. I really began to doubt that I would be able to have an un-medicated birth. I just knew we were going to get to the hospital, they were going to tell me I was only dilated to five centimeters, and I would have nothing left to draw from to get through the remainder of labor. I could not imagine the pain getting any worse.

We arrived at the hospital about 2:50. Jenni noted that it was 2:52 when she was running through the parking lot to meet us at the ER entrance. It took a few minutes before I managed to get out of the car and into the wheelchair. It felt like I was having one, long contraction. Jenni took me inside while Michael went to park the car. They immediately admitted me in the ER and took me upstairs to Labor and Delivery. Jenni was so wonderful during that wheelchair ride. She was holding my hand, comforting me, and assuring me that I was about to meet my baby. The nurses at Admissions in L&D somehow coaxed my name, birthdate, and Social Security Number out of me and got me to initial and sign a few forms while I was standing at the desk (I couldn’t sit anymore!) working through contractions. I have NO IDEA what those forms said. I could have been signing away the rights to my child for all I knew. I just figured if I did what they told me, they would leave me alone!

When Michael and I toured the hospital a month before Hope’s birth, we got to see the amazing birth tub and water birth suite they had. I hadn’t been sold on the idea of a water birth before then, but, after seeing the tub, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted dim lights, soft music, and wonderful warm water when we welcomed Hope into the world. However, since there was only one tub available for the whole hospital, I had been concerned that it wouldn’t be available when I needed it. We asked at admissions and I was relieved to hear that that room was free!

They wheeled me down the hall to the room. I stood up out of the wheel chair and immediately had to lean over onto the bed to get through a contraction. I remember one nurse telling me to go into the bathroom and change into a gown. I told her I couldn’t move. Another nurse told me to get onto the bed so they could check my progress. I told her I couldn’t move. My doula went to fill up the tub. Michael was still parking the car. I had my eyes closed and my back turned to most of the activity in the room, still standing beside the bed, but I could tell that there was a lot going on behind me. Nurses were calling out instructions to each other, one of the midwives from the UNT Midwife group arrived (though I had no idea which one until after Hope was born), the midwife’s phone was ringing as they were trying to call her to my room (not realizing she was already there), someone was helping me take my pants off, nurses laid towels down on the floor where I was standing, my doula came back, and, finally, Michael arrived. He and Jenni sat on the other side of the bed, facing me, so they could support me. It still hadn’t dawned on me that it was time to have this baby! The midwife checked my progress and I heard her say, “Alright. You’re ready.”

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I don’t remember making the conscious decision to push. My body just sort of took over and did it. What a relief pushing was! In our Birth Bootcamp classes, I had heard that some women hated pushing and other women loved it. I’m thankful I was in the latter category! For William’s birth I had an epidural. That, coupled with the fact that he was OP (sunny side up), meant that I pushed for two hours before he was born. Until the very end, when the epidural was wearing off, I couldn’t really feel anything. It was such an amazing experience to be able to feel Hope being born! I don’t recall exactly how long I pushed, but it couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes. Before I knew it, I heard Michael and the midwife both telling me to reach down and pick up the baby. Michael says the image that is burned into his memory from that morning is me, standing by the hospital bed, naked from the waist down, still in the shirt I wore while in labor, holding just-born Hope on my chest with her umbilical cord still attached. I absolutely couldn’t believe what had just happened. My mind was reeling. I was crying and laughing and in a little bit of shock, I think. Hope was born at 3:04 a.m. We couldn’t have been in the hospital room for more than five minutes at that point.

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They got me and Hope onto the bed and checked us both out. Once I was in bed, I saw that it was Tania that had delivered Hope. She was the perfect midwife to have attended her birth. She was so relaxed and calm through the whole hectic ordeal. Thankfully, we didn’t even have to ask for her to wait to clamp the cord until it pulsed out. I don’t think either Michael or I would have remembered that detail at the time. She just did it. Immediately after delivery, the nurses were a little concerned that Hope wasn’t crying more or pinking up as quickly as they would have liked, but Tania encouraged them to give us some space while the cord pulsed out. Within minutes she was doing just fine. Once they had taken Hope’s initial Apgars, Michael had cut the cord, and I delivered the placenta, they left us alone for at least an hour. Hope laid on my chest, tried to nurse, Michael and I called our families, and my nurse took my “pre-delivery” blood work and asked me all of the questions that are usually asked upon admission to the hospital. They then took Hope to weigh her (6 lbs, 14 oz) and measure her (19 3/4″). They let Michael apply her prophylactic eye ointment. He put it in her eyebrows, just like we had talked about, and the nurses were totally fine with it.

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I got myself up out of bed, changed clothes, freshened up a bit and then we were off to our postpartum room. I felt amazing, slightly sore and a little tired, but otherwise like my old self. One of the first questions I asked after the birth was, “Did I tear?” Not a bit! My recovery from William’s delivery was long and painful (thanks for nothing, episiotomy!). It was such a nice surprise to feel like I could have resumed all my normal activities almost immediately after delivering Hope.

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This definitely was not the birth I imagined, but it was everything I wanted: an un-medicated birth with personal, warm care in an environment that supported the choices Michael and I made for Hope’s birth and her care. I’m afraid that this experience has turned me into a birth junkie. As difficult as life is right now, caring for a 24 month old and a four month old, I really can’t wait to do this all over again!

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Photos by Jenni King of Joyful Birth Doula Care

I’m Not Sorry

I’m Not Sorry

This week, the twins turn three months old. It’s crazy…time has truly flown by! We are amazed every day at their progress, thankful for their sleeping habit improvements, and amazed that these little miracles are ours.

But, during these three months, there’s been something I’ve been debating sharing, unsure of how to put it out there without sounding offensive. But, I think it’s time…so…here goes.

To get there, I have to start with how the twins arrived. It’s something I’ve had to figure out how to come to terms with on my own, something I treasure, and something I’m asked about on a fairly regular basis.

See, when you have twins, it seems like no questions are off limits. That’s okay; I don’t mind sharing, and I used to be the one with all of these questions! One of the questions is about how they were delivered, and that’s okay!

At 37 weeks and three days, I was scheduled for an induction due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction. Basically, the babies ran out of room. I was proud as John and I marched (okay…waddled and limped) down the halls of the hospital, excited to have made it to term, and ready to meet the babies!

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We had absolutely fantastic nurses and a doctor that was completely supportive of our desire for the most natural birth possible considering twins were in the picture. One of her requests was that we have an epidural, because things can turn really rapidly with twins. We agreed to have it placed as soon as we arrived, because of platelet issues, we could have lost this opportunity if we had waited. (Note: I use “we” a lot, because John was just as much a part of this process and support as I was; this was a team effort in every sense of the word!). But, we wanted to wait to have the meds put through it. Our doctors were completely on board.

The labor was smooth and I was able to stay relaxed through it. Contractions were manageable and I was on cloud nine. When I progressed to eight centimeters, the doctor asked if we could start putting the drugs in, again, just in case. I agreed. However, we quickly found out they couldn’t push the medicine through the epidural…it was defective. So, it was removed and they placed another one, which didn’t work. At this point, it was time to move to the OR (standard for twin delivery) to push, so a natural birth it would be!

Our baby A, which we quickly found out was a boy, was delivered quickly! It was smooth and amazing; we were in love instantly! Other good news included the fact that our Baby B, which would be a girl, had flipped from breech, where she’d been the whole pregnancy, to head down. Great, we thought. She’d be here in no time!

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This is where everything took a turn. Our doctor’s face became concerned and she put an internal monitor in. See, our Ginny wasn’t moving down and we’d lost her heart beat. Things changed quickly. Our doctor remained calm and explained that there was no time to wait, we would lose the baby if she didn’t get in there and remove her fast.

Within one minute, everything was ready and the anesthesiologist was apologizing, saying she was trying to push enough drugs to make up for the fact that the epidural wasn’t functioning. Soon, from what I understand, the baby was out and I was hemorrhaging. Our natural delivery turned into a medical emergency where both of our lives were at risk. I was put under and John and the babies were sent to recovery.

It would be a few hours before I was sent down to join them and before I would be able to see the babies. Obviously this time flew by for me, but John took care of skin to skin and made sure all was well, taking all of the first pictures and spending time with our new family members!

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I don’t remember my first few hours with the babies, I don’t remember our first picture or the first time I held them, but we have precious pictures to document the experiences. They were here, they were healthy, and modern medicine and quick thinking and acting doctors saved us all, especially Ginny and I!

This is where the comments generally start and where I need to share my thoughts. Generally, when I’m asked how I delivered, I say, “One natural, one c-section” No details needed, right? The next thing I hear is almost always, “I’m sorry.”

Here’s the thing: I’m not. Was my delivery ideal? Nope. Was it what I envisioned? Nope. Was it ideal to have a regular delivery and a C-section without pain relief at the same time? No. Do I still have nightmares and need time to process it? You bet.

But. I’m. Not. Sorry.

I’m not sorry for the way I delivered my babies or the way my daughter entered this world. I don’t feel bad about it or feel regret. I don’t resent the doctors who made the best choices they could to ensure the health of my family.

I don’t understand those that compare their experiences to something horrible. I don’t understand how a wish for a natural birth could trump the desire for a safe one.

This story is something I will share with Ginny when she asks someday, with pride, because you know what? It’s her story! It’s how she chose to get here. It’s unique and it’s hers and she’ll be able to understand it, because all potential consequences of waiting were avoided. She could have suffered and she did not. She’s healthy and my hope is that she’ll be happy. So far, we are doing pretty well in that department.

I understand that doctors make decisions we don’t always agree with and that sometimes there may be other motives at play, but, in our case, there were not. The best decisions were made from the start of the day until the babies arrived.

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So, no, let me reiterate…I am not sorry. I am grateful. I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’m grateful for a doctor that let my husband stay in the room to witness our daughter’s birth and to pray over everything that was happening, even in the midst of chaos. I’m grateful that I get to hold my healthy babies each day.

This story brought them to us, it’s a part of our family now, and I choose to see it as a happy one.

How can I be sorry for that?

Originally published on Take Two Blog.

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